When I work with clients of all ages, I often invite them to create a wheel identifying the different elements or spokes that make up themselves. I’ve learned with time that it’s best for people to choose their own spokes, centre and circumference of the wheel. I often share my own with them to give them a sense of the exercise, but it’s much more powerful when they make it unique to themselves.
As with anything we are often drawn to the finished product, but I find that the awareness that comes from the process of creating the wheel is often more important. Was it easy to make or difficult? Were certain spokes harder to fill than others or were there some that you didn’t want to put at all? Were you critical of the way it looked or sounded? Did you struggle to see what already is and instead seek out what isn’t? Were pleasure and sexuality a part of your wheel? What makes your wheel turn and who or what is at the centre?
I love looking at the simplicity in my daughter’s wheel and being reminded that there are always “happy things that make us feel better” when we’re willing to look.
At my recent Advanced Bodysex Retreat we were blessed to have a woman amongst us who offered to draw our vulvas. One by one, at random times during the retreat, we took turns sitting under a bright light with our legs spread open in front of her. Even though I’ve let go of my own vulva shame long ago, it’s still vulnerable opening this most sacred part of my body to another. As a loving sister she told me the beauty that she saw in me, and pointed out details that enhanced her drawing. The length of my lips, colour and texture.
Looking at these pictures I am in awe at the diversity and intricate beauty of all our vulvas. Like snow flakes no two are alike and with each drawing I am full of awe and wonder.
Thank you to my sweet sister for showing me, through your drawings, the light with which you see me. <3
My lover is my best friend — absolutely dependable and always shows up.
My lover sees me exactly as I am — flaws, strengths and everything in between — and mirrors these things back to me.
My lover enjoys touching my whole body and knows that every single part of me can feel erotic.
My lover pays attention to both obvious and subtle things. How my breath changes in response to a certain touch, the movement of my hips, the heat rising up my neck.
My lover knows that pleasure can be felt through each of my senses and reminds me to experience pleasure throughout the day. …….The feel of blackberries on my tongue. The smell of sun sweat. The sound of leaves clicking together in the wind. The flow of the river. The taste of a fresh peach. That’s our foreplay.
My lover likes the smoothness of my skin when I shave and the softness of my pubic hair when I don’t.
My lover is more turned on by my natural scent than any product I could ever wear. My scent just makes me more me.
My lover always wants to have sex when I do, and doesn’t when I don’t.
My lover could spend all day in bed with me and never get bored.
My lover brings me to orgasm over and over when I’m bleeding, knowing that it helps me feel better and gets the blood flowing faster.
My lover doesn’t feel bad when I want to cum quickly or when I want to edge my pleasure for hours.
My lover knows it’s much more than “just masturbation.”
My lover is me.
** photo credit to Dana Kellet
“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’m so excited to announce these upcoming Bodysex retreat dates including a whole new Advanced retreat! Details can be found under “services” but if you have any questions at all please don’t hesitate to contact me. I’d love to share the circle with you. <3
“Shame is the intensely painful feeling or experience that we are flawed and therefore unworthy of love and belonging.”
Last month I attended a conference that included a workshop on shame and vulnerability. As I sat listening, the facilitator shared her belief (based on the teachings of the incredible Brene Brown) that when choosing to speak vulnerably we should connect with someone who has “earned the right to hear our story.” She went on to explain that this means someone trusted — “who cares about you and your feelings enough to receive your vulnerability compassionately”.
While I think that sharing vulnerably with a trusted person is an excellent first step, in reality many times the people we need to be vulnerable with won’t always be able to receive our truth or shame with compassion and non judgement. When speaking vulnerably we have absolutely no control over the other person’s response to what we say. Because of this there are times when even though we may want to be vulnerable, we might not be ready to accept whatever response we could get. We may be too emotionally attached to both the person’s perception of ourselves and the outcome of our words. Seeing this can allow a person to step back and accept that choosing vulnerability in this situation isn’t the right choice, and that’s okay.
There are other times though where our need to speak up and be vulnerable may be related to how another person has treated us or how they treated someone else. If we don’t speak up, our hurt feelings can grow and we may end up avoiding them because of it. Depending on how much this person means to you, a decision may have to be made to either be vulnerable and speak your truth — which could result in a closer and deeper relationship — or remaining hurt with a wall between you. Speaking vulnerably carries great risks but potentially great possibilities.
For me personally there are times when my truth is screaming at me to be spoken, and even though I have no control over the outcome, and can’t be sure that the person I need to speak to has earned the right to hear it….I can’t not do it. Over and over I remind myself “It’s just my truth. They don’t need to like it or even agree with it. But it’s my truth and that’s not wrong.” To me truly being vulnerable means I do so without knowing that I will be received. It is when the other persons response is less important than my desire to speak my truth.
In order to be able to do this, I think it’s essential to connect with and honour these truths. To look at my self, my body and my stories and find a way to accept them with compassion – regardless of how others feel about them. Some of my own stories are really hard to look and I feel like they don’t reflect my character or the person I know I am. Yet they’re still my stories, and getting used to them means “sitting in them” rather than avoiding them. Sitting in them brings acceptance of them. The same goes for my body. Some parts of it don’t fit with how I think I should look, yet this is how I look. By spending time naked I become familiar with my body and the way it looks and feels. When I’m really struggling with an old story, or a feeling about my body, I imagine that my child, best friend, lover, or a perfect stranger is showing me or telling me the same story and I think of how I would respond to them and why.
As I continued listening to the facilitator speak I thought of all of the women in my Bodysex workshops or that I’ve orgasm coached, who have shared their stories and their bodies with me not knowing beforehand if I’d “earned the right.” I don’t believe for a second that they weren’t scared but I do believe that they, like me, felt that being vulnerable with their truth was more important than my response to it. I believe that when we are willing to do this we change shame from the “painful feeling or experience that we are flawed and therefore unworthy of love and belonging” to a feeling of acceptance and belonging exactly as we are. And when we feel this we can choose to be vulnerable with many, knowing that there will always be one person for sure who has earned the right to hear our story. That person is Ourself.
*** photo credit to Dana Kellet