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
Last week I posted a pic of myself on social media, biking with my 4 times pregnant, stretched stomach showing just a bit. I’ve never received such a response from anything I’ve posted and it made me realize how much even I – who promotes body acceptance and vulnerability – have been afraid of being seen as I am. There’s still an old belief that if I’m seen I won’t be accepted – and yet I do accept myself. I guess I don’t necessarily trust others to do the same.
After the overwhelmingly positive response I received, I looked through my photos on social media and imagined myself from the outside looking in. I realized that I write about my scars but I don’t necessarily show them.
Here are two photos of me taken on the same day. One covering the physical marks that remind me of the beautiful beings I helped create, and the other showing them. In both I was sweaty and flushed from my bike ride and in both I felt absolutely beautiful. At the end of the day, both are of me and I apologize for taking so long to show up publicly in this full expression of myself. ❤️
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 then really understood the importance of being one without all our layers in nature. I had thought about how drab the landscape and sky seemed that day, and was a bit disappointed it wasn’t a green, leafy, bright blue sky sort of day. But once I saw the women and their skin against the earth they seemed to fit in perfectly, it allowed their beauty to be the focus. It was like they were the first flowers blooming this spring season.” – photographer Meghan Mickelson
At each of my Bodysex Saskatoon retreats the women have the option of getting Nude in Nature photos taken of them. For the women who choose to have them done, the rest of us support them by watching and encourageing – letting each woman know how we see her. We pay attention to and admire their unique beauty – the contrast of a dark nipple against the back drop of the sky, the soft and inviting curve of a waist, the strength of the muscles on someone’s back, the sexy expression on a face, the presence or absence of pubic hair. We adore each other, we laugh, we cry and we carry the shared vulnerability from the circle, into the photo shoot.
Here is a small glimpse into what was captured that day :
*** All photos captured by Meghan Mickelson and shared by the women with enthusiastic permission.
And…… having fun showing some different poses 🙂
****** 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.”