I am getting so excited excited for my Advanced Bodysex retreat in November! Some women have asked if they are ready for an “advanced” retreat and basically the only requirement is that you have previously attended a Betty Dodson Certified Bodysex workshop. The reason for this is that I want everyone to know their sexual anatomy, and to have experienced being nude in a group so that it isn’t such a big fear. The focus of this retreat will be on self exploration and we will explore ourselves in many different ways. Physically through touch, movement and sound. Spiritually through breath and energy awareness. Emotionally and intellectually through examining old stories we carry regarding our sexuality, pleasure and shame as well as identifying what we want, need and desire for our sex life. We will explore through engaging our five sense and seeking to find pleasure in everyday experiences. Throughout the 3 night retreat we will practice self pleasure – pushing the edges of our comfort – so that we can grow and learn though our practice.
The inner work will begin before the retreat starts in the form of “homework” which you will not be required to share.
The retreat is half full and registration closes November 1st. A $200 deposit is required upon registering. The retreat is over half full. Email me to book or with any questions you may have.
“A hospital chaplain says that the dying have a lot to teach us on how to live our lives better while we still can. One of the most frequent yet surprising regrets she’s found, especially from female patients, is the fact that they hated their bodies for so many years. Only now, when that body is truly failing, do they realize they should have celebrated it.”
A couple of weeks ago, while recovering from surgery to remove a tumor on my thyroid, I spent the night and day on the South Saskatchewan river. I’d been told that I should avoid the sun to lessen the severity of my scar, but I knew that there was nothing that could be more healing for me than the sun on my body, sand in my hair and the river under me.
When I got back home I noticed how the browning of my skin made the stretch marks on my body show up even more. Like my body’s own kind of intricate artwork I couldn’t help but think how interesting and beautiful they were to look at. This was remarkable considering that only 4 years previously, at my first nude Bodysex workshop, the part of my body that I was most terrified of the other women seeing were my stretch marks.
Even though I’ve spent the past few years getting used to and learning to really enjoy being naked, I won’t pretend that I have no more body shame. I believe shame comes in layers, and each time I expose myself and peel back a layer, I get closer to the root of what my shame is really about. My scars and stretch marks may be illustrations of the stories of my life, but the actual story is in what the illustrations signify to me. That’s the part that’s the most difficult to come to terms with and what I think we are really afraid that others will see when looking at us.
On the outside my c-section scar tells the story of me having surgery to deliver my babies.
On the inside the scar tells a story of me failing at what I wanted most in the world.
On the outside my stretch marks tell a story of a girl growing and changing through puberty, pregnancy and the normal ups and downs of life.
On the inside the stretch marks tell a story of me feeling abnormal and ugly.
On the outside, the most recent scar on my neck tells a story of removing cancerous cells so that I can live.
On the inside the scar tells a story that I’ve done something wrong for this to happen to me.
Thankfully my first two stories are no longer relevant to me or my life. I am still sad that I didn’t give birth naturally but I haven’t failed at motherhood. And when I’m not noticing the beauty of my stretch marks, I usually forget I even have them.
I know that it’ll take time for me to come to terms with my new scar, and the layers of stories that lay beneath it. But when I was lying naked in the sand along the river, I didn’t feel like I’d done anything wrong to deserve it. I felt more competent, loved, supported, beautiful and alive than I’ve ever felt in my life. Whether my scar fades or stays the same, I hope that this is the story behind the illustration that I will celebrate.
I haven’t finished my write up from this past weekend’s Bodysex retreat but a couple of testimonials have already come in. Here is one of them. I’m so happy for her!!!
“That was the hardest thing I have ever done in my life. All of those women made me feel so comfortable and every one of them are so real!!!! I need more sisters in my life to make me feel that way. I came home stripped naked and looked in the mirror and said “you are beautiful, you have beautiful curves.” Today and going forward I am gonna love myself and exercise and eat healthy and nourish my body and make love to myself……. And fucking orgasm. YES!!!!! Thank you for helping me find myself again.”
Justine (Stiina) was a participant of my first Bodysex Retreat and, while I didn’t really know her before that, it became apparent very quickly that she was an artist who truly enjoyed creating art on people’s bodies. As the weekend went on -and the rest of us got over our issues with accepting love and gifts from another – it was a common sight to see Justine (often naked) creating art on different women. Being on the receiving end of this I can’t express what a gift it was. I’m usually the one doing the mothering and having another woman braid and touch my hair or gently adorn my skin was wonderful and healing for me.
Justine registered again for my second retreat and after that I knew that I couldn’t imagine her not being there. I decided to offer her a permanent seat in the circle as my gift to the other women. Much like Patti, Justine brings something special to the weekend that I don’t – and I want the other women to be able to experience it.
Bodysex is a time for reflection, healing and celebration. By making it into a weekend retreat it also becomes a time to be mothered. Thank you SO much Justine for making our space more sacred through your loving touch and beautiful art. I can’t wait to share the circle with you again this Friday.
I wish all women could really know and have the experience I just had in Saskatoon with Natasha and the eight other special women who are now my courageous and brave forever sisters. There is nothing like it. Nothing. I have attended many workshops of all kinds but they do not compare to the absolute rawness, vulnerableness and authenticity of Bodysex. Designed by women and only for women I am given total permission to express myself, and I mean all of me. Moreover I am held by others in full acceptance of my expression and I them. The reason for this, unlike all other learnings, is that there is a foundational inclusivity of our sexuality. Together, yet individually, as each other’s witnesses we look fully at our sex, we touch it, we talk about it, we sometimes cry and laugh about it and we experience the profound pleasure of it. For me this brings me ever more closer to my wholeness. My sexual self is often left out of many learning modalities as if it doesn’t exist. But not in the Bodysex circle, it is in fact the key that brings a new awareness and a new connection to ourselves like no other.
I know that visceral fear women have, because I have had it too, of breaking cultural taboos. After all, it has always been our burden to carry on tradition so that all does not fall apart. And yet, in my experience it is within the breaking apart, away and/or the breaking down that my true essence is unearthed and ultimately embraced for everything that it is. By that I mean when I brave the territory of going against the grain of what is culturally acceptable or the norm, I see and know that the world does not end, I don’t end, and if anything I build a new path or maybe find the path that was always there awaiting me. I can fearlessly walk this path acknowledging and declaring the real me. This process cannot at all happen without other women. They are my mirrors, my reflection back, my sisters in self discovery. I support them and they support me in my expression of pleasure, of love, of pain, of strength, of weakness, and of joy.
And who is the real me? I am many things but what showed up for me this time in the protected warmth of the circle of women is my wildly orgasmic self unafraid to take up space with my sounds of primal pleasure, with my big body, and with my heart that embraces the women around me. I am a woman who unabashedly shares the stories of my six decades of juicy fun sexcapades and who now, because of the strength I have found with my Bodysex sisters, makes conscious effort to let go of that which is not serving me and joyously make room for better things to come.
I feel inspired, grounded yet flying high, rejuvenated and looking forward to what Bodysex will bring to me because each time I participate I get taken to a deeper understanding of my purpose and a commitment to have my life be pleasurable as is my birthright.
A thousand thank-you’s, Natasha for giving us this experience with such grace, enthusiasm and sensitivity. I love you!
This past weekends Bodysex workshop was held at Ancient Spirals Retreat Centre, where images of spirals were represented throughout the building and surrounding land. Spirals come in many different shapes, colours, and textures and to me each curve represents the unknown, anticipation of what is to come, darkness around unseen bends, and light when something new is discovered. It has been said that a person needs to travel deep inside themselves in order to find the place where their sexuality lies. I believe that this weekend’s Bodysex retreat helped each of us women on our journey inwards, to further explore the curves and colours of our own spirals.
The first step of the spiral began when we took off our clothes, sat down in the circle and shared our stories. No words can convey how much I appreciate being able to share such intimate stories with women older and younger than me. We all hold different wisdom and yet as I listened to each women speak I recognized a part of my own self in all of them. It seems that we all just want to be seen for who we are and it is so comforting to know that I’m not alone in that. With this understanding I gained strength as we took the next step in our spirals towards the vulva show and tell.
For many women, the show and tell is the scariest part and as the facilitator I have the privilege and honour of guiding the women through it. Sitting with each one, close enough that my arm is over their leg, I see the same image as they do in the mirror between their feet. I can feel the fear and nervousness in their body as they open themselves – sometimes shaking and often apologetic about what I am seeing. I marvel at the unique beauty, colour and shape of each woman and together, looking in the mirror, we witness a visual awakening – much like a bud in bloom. Shame literally means “to cover”and just like ourselves, our vulva just wants to be seen……..They are all beautiful and one woman shared that it helped her heal a lifetime of genital shame. Watching her fall in love with her pussy was pure joy for me and, I hope for her that it will be a burst of light in her own journey inwards. As always we named our vulvas together and I couldn’t help but feel that the names signified in some way the unique journey that each woman is on.
Doing the Bodysex workshop as part of a full weekend retreat meant that we were able to continue travelling our spiral long after the workshop hours were completed. We took several winding steps along our individual paths while being physically nourished with delicious food. Conversation and laughter flowed as we shared stories of relationships, lust, pain, heartache, addictions, recovery, sexual abuse, and longing. Some spent time alone reading, journaling, walking, skiing, doing yoga or sitting in silence and I marvelled at the respect given for boundaries and space as each woman navigated the twists and turns of her own personal spiral.
Something I hadn’t anticipated was how the women would make the weekend their own by sharing talents or gifts that were unique to them. Tarot cards, building an alter, fire blessing, hair braiding, listening with presence, preparing food, and offerings of homemade creams and oils. It was like one big seamless slumber party with each gift helping and encouraging us to enter into new turns in our spirals. It reminded me how our sexuality encompasses and is enhanced by parts of ourself that have nothing at all – and yet and everything – to do with sex.
After the second day of the actual workshop was over and we began our last night together, one of the women suggested that we recreate the “erotic recess” by pleasuring ourselves in a circle around the fire. Hearing this and seeing the nods of agreement from other women, I knew that the weekend experience had undeniably impacted their lives in a permanent way. Here we were – about to break the deeply ingrained cultural taboos – by having our first masturbation circle outside of the workshop hours!
Taking yet another step deeper into our spirals, seven of us joined in and – dragging mattresses across the floor – formed a circle around the fire. Lulled by the sounds of one woman’s very loud hitachi vibrator, and shouts of “Dear God” and “Jesus Christ” we laughed until we cried, touched ourselves with new found love and orgasmed at the same time. It was a spontaneous and true celebration of pleasure and sisterhood.
This weekend I journeyed deeper into my inner spiral surrounded by a circle of sisters – some of whom I knew and some whom I had never met before. I had been nervous about being in shared accommodation all weekend thinking that I might need time alone to process. But being there I realized how nice it felt to have their presence with me as I travelled through the light and dark bends in my own spiral. I was grateful that they treated me like a peer and not like someone who has “arrived” at a destination. I’m on my own journey.
Full of gratitude and love I give thanks for the weekend, the trust in me, and for being allowed to witness the stunning beauty of:
Mary, Red wolf, Peach, Braided rose, Wishbone, Precious frisky, Turtle, Shelley, Pearl and Fox.
With love and gratitude,
My next Bodysex Retreat will be in May. Details to come or pm me.