“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
Sometimes it’s difficult for me to write about Bodysex retreats because I feel a responsibility to honour the other women through my words and yet, just like in the circle, I can only speak for myself. I find that each retreat peels another layer off of the armour that I wear and, with that, the mirror image that I see reflected in the women’s eyes becomes more clear. Seeing myself with more clarity — and less armour — frees me to be me. I can only hope and trust that this increased freedom to be me, gives the women the freedom to experience themselves in their full expression as well.
I came into last weekend’s retreat grieving the end of a relationship that was and is very dear to me. I felt heartbroken and tender — yet at the same time excited and curious to be amongst a new circle of women. As soon as Patti and I got to the retreat space and began setting up, my body — remembering the familiar smells, sights and feels of the space — began to settle and soften. Body sex is home to me.
The next morning while we waited for the women to arrive, I laid down naked on the couch for some quiet time while Patti and Justine sat across the room doing henna. In between answering texts from nervous women, reading quotes and drinking tea — I touched myself. Connecting to my body through pleasure always grounds me — bringing me into me. Pleasuring myself in the same room as them, while they were experiencing pleasure in their own way, didn’t seem at all strange. When I orgasmed Patti looked back at me and smiled, then went back to discussing her henna design with Justine. I smiled too in recognition of the freedom I felt experiencing this kind of intimacy — in full acceptance and non judgement — by women that I’m not sexually intimate with. We eat, we sleep, we orgasm, we don’t orgasm, we cry, we share our darkest secrets and deepest shame. In all of it there is no hierarchy or relative importance between these things and I couldn’t help but think that this is how I imagine the perfect love affair.
That feeling of freedom stayed with me the entire weekend and I can honestly say that I felt free in a way that I have never felt before. I loved being naked and felt completely at home and beautiful in my body. Even outside in the cold I’d pull up my dress so that my pussy was exposed and free. In this freedom my vulva lips bloomed and opened up to the world as if to say “this is me in my abundance and I’m not hiding anymore!!!!”
The freedom showed up in my ability to empathize with the women’s pain but not wish I could rescue them from it. Knowing that this journey is hard, I felt less responsibility for everyone’s experience and yet somehow trusted that they were having the experience that they needed. I was able to reach out physically in ways that I haven’t before — trusting myself and the women that it was welcome. I’ve always felt like I’m too much and because of this I’d hold back. Feeling free in the way I express love and compassion, I held a woman in a fully naked body hug, as she grieved a loss of her own.
In this freedom I realized that Bodysex represents a unique and beautiful dichotomy of self growth and self pleasure while at the same time an experience of deep interpersonal connection. In the contrast of these two things, we find the common connection of vulnerability. Each of us in the circle travels our own path, expresses our own shame, feels our own pain, and celebrates our own pleasure, yet we are never alone for any of it. We do so being witnessed and witnessing in a circle of sisterhood. Body sex is the ultimate love affair.
With this very difficult and vulnerable piece of writing, another layer of armour falls off and once again my mirror image is more clear. This freedom isn’t only in Bodysex. This freedom is in me.
Much love to all of you: Bambi, Bunny, Aloha, Turtle, Kiki, Ginny, Sage, Marina, Rosa, Sasha, Roxy and Liberty.
**special thanks to my dear sister Patti who’s encouragement as I wrote this meant the world to me and without it I could not have shared it. You are a gift.
** photo credit to the talented Meghan Mickelson and shared with permission
This past weekend I led a Bodysex retreat away from home for the first time in the 3 years that I’ve been facilitating these circles. I dreamt of bringing Bodysex to other places even before I began this work, but have always held back from actually doing it — with old stories of self worth and insecurities coming up. Encouraged however by the loving support and confidence of my lover who continually invited me to bring Bodysex to Quebec, I began opening to the idea. He introduced me to Marika, my wonderful sister who offered her assistance and perfect womb like home for the circle, as well as a talented vegan chef who seemed very excited at the prospect of nourishing our pleasure with his food. The combination of support and encouragement felt to me like I was being welcomed into a loving mama’s bosom and reminded me that I’m never alone in anything. As the registrations began coming in I felt both humbled and afraid of the depth and honour of what this meant, all the while reminding myself that my staying small doesn’t serve anyone……
Each body sex circle seems to have it’s own theme that develops organically and somehow, like providence, the theme often seems to match the needs of many of the women in the circle. “I’m here because of my lineage” said a woman across from me as we took turns sharing our stories of physical and sexual shame. Softly and lyrically alternating between English and French she explained that she wanted to heal the pain of the women who came before her — to honour them and also so that she doesn’t have to carry their shame and pain anymore. “It ends today.”
It’s common in Bodysex circles to hear women talk about wanting to heal so that future generations don’t need to carry this shame, but this was the first time I’d heard spoken the intention to heal for the ancestors who came before us. Touched deeply by this I thought of my own mother, my grandmothers, aunts, and women I don’t even know the names of. I wondered what their stories were, what pain and joy they held deep inside their bodies, under their clothes and between their legs. What lived and unlived dreams did they have? Had they ever felt safe to cry in shame or to cry in pleasure? I envisioned their shame like a heavy but invisible burden, attached to their bodies, their wombs, the lips of their vulvas and their silence. In what ways I wondered, do I still hold this invisible weight and in what ways am I passing it on silently to my children?
As the weekend went on we bonded over our shared stories, time in the hot tub, laughter, fantasies, eating delicious vegan food and being loving witnesses to the beauty of each other’s bodies. We took turns opening our vulvas, expressing adoration and wishes in recognition of this valued part of our body that is so often ignored or forgotten. Different women spoke of visions of their ancestors or nameless women in their dreams and I felt the power of our experiences extend far beyond the walls we were in. When it came time to celebrate our orgasms together we were quiet at first but, as our pleasure built, our sounds carried through the ceiling to the kitchen where the chef was preparing our plates. I couldn’t help but think of how symbolic it was to have a man come to the house — solely to be in service to us — while we celebrated our bodies and our pleasure on our own. Just WOW.
Full of sexual energy and inspired by the visions and sounds of women in pleasure around me, I brought myself to orgasm over and over. As I did I imagined the women in my lineage with their secret stories of shame and pleasure and I lifted the stories for them, like weights hanging off of my body, and threw them up into the air to be released with my orgasmic energy. I came again and again with this image in my mind, physically and energetically cleansing my ancestors and myself of their shame. As I did so I acknowledged the honour of being able to live the path that I do, the strength that I have to do so, and felt absolute gratitude for the women before me who led the way. “I’m here because of my lineage, and It ends today.”
Thank you to my new sisters for sharing with me: Angel, Ananda, Phoenix, Rayon de Lumiere, Secret Island, Avalin, Esmerelda, Natasha and Porte de tous les Possibles.
*** stay tuned for my fall Bodysex Quebec date
The beautiful share comes from a woman who has sat in the Bodysex circle with me 5 times. This is Bodysex.
I now see humanness in every woman.
And a person I know…Like the woman who walks in all beautiful to the gym with her long curly hair.First instinct is to judge herBecause she’s obviously done her hair for the gym.But then her body type and hair reminds me of this other woman,one that I went to Bodysex with.And suddenly I’m not judging her anymore,because she has sat in circle with me.Or a totally groomed lady comes in with her fancy mom hair and I see a woman I sat with in Bodysex.So I don’t judge because I know what might be happening behind the illusionOr a young single girl comes in and I think “you have it so easy, no kids. No responsibility.”and then I see the girl from body sex who wants nothing more than a committed relationship and kidsIt goes on.There is a connection to be had with every woman and each of us has a story.I feel so much more open to other people’s stories now,Because the common themes of wanting love and struggling for acceptance and all of it come together.We are all the same body.
******* The following quotes and photos are shared with permission by women who have attended at least one of my Bodysex Retreats. Thanks to all of you for showing up and allowing me to see you in your full light and beauty and for you seeing mine.”
“I really see it like a womb that allows for recreation of what we want to be in our lives at this moment,
plus offers the gift of being brave enough to do a scary thing, which empowers us to do other scary things. “
“Recognizing patterns and connections between all aspects of my life and past experiences.”
“Through the multiple trips around the bodysex circle I am coming to find that I – all of what that is – do belong, everywhere that I am. Even in the scariest places to Be KNOWN, like, in my family. Because I am ok with me, and I guess that’s all I really needed to know.”
“Do right by yourself, jump like a frog, and fuck the fuckers. “
“Not being able to hide behind my clothes and daily roles didn’t just allow others to see me, but allowed me to see myself”
“I’ve learned to trust my intuition. To listen to my body first and let it be my guide”
“I understand myself better and accept my need for down time more than I used to. It started with me paying attention to my shift in hormones in relation to sex, but it affects every aspect of my life too, the days I’m creative, the days I feel like cleaning, the days I feel like resting. As women in a patriarchal world, we push ourselves to do so much and we need rest, and to listen to the wisdom of our bodies. Body sex helped me grasp that concept on a more full level than intellectually because of the circle of women, their acceptance and mirroring.”
“I’m now so tuned into my body and nervous system responses, I have so much faith in myself that I can feel into it and make good decisions with no regret.”
****** The following quotes and photos I’m sharing with permission by women who have attended at least one of my Bodysex Retreats. Thanks to all of you for showing up allowing me to see you in your full light and beauty and for you to see mine. <3
“ Bodysex helped me to accept not only my physical body, but my bodily functions. I’m no longer ashamed of my bleeding and have learned to (when life permits me) allow my blood to flow out of me instead of plugging it to avoid seeing it. Watching it drip out is like wow this is fucking cool shit here! I bleed to create life.”
“This is me and I’m okay with me”
“My skin is all of a sudden saggy in many places it wasn’t before (hello 35!). rather than feeling bad/weird about that, i’m fascinated and in love with it.”
“Even more than body acceptance i’d say honouring of my body and all it is, does, has done for me.”
“Physical and emotional comfort in my own skin”
“The permission to adore and care for and nourish my body has stayed with me.”
“I hold my physical space in the world differently now. I historically have curled my shoulders down to conceal a large bosom and also protect my vulnerable core. Now, I lead with my solar plexus, my power, which makes my tits jut out, but i feel strong, not ashamed.”
“I’m so comfortable in my body that I hated and kept hidden for so long, that I have to remind myself that I can’t just be naked all the time. “
“Sex used to be lights out face hidden and now I’m lights on, legs spread “This is Me!”
“Masturbation has been a way for me to heal my body shame. By touching myself – and I mean my whole body – I have become more compassionate and less judgemental about the parts that I thought were ugly.”