Truly Being Vulnerable Means I Do So Without Knowing That I Will Be Received.

Shame is the intensely painful feeling or experience that we are flawed and therefore unworthy of love and belonging.”
Brene Brown

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

13 Things Men Love About Women That Everyone Tells Us We’re Not Supposed To

An anonymous man sent this to me and I thought it was worthy of publishing! Always great to hear from a male perspective.

13 Things Men Love About Women That Everyone Tells Us We’re Not Supposed To:

  1. When you’re funnier and smarter than us – you’re fascinating, exhilarating, and you challenge us to keep up.
  2. How you look when you first wake up – we’re like dogs, we’re just happy to see you.
  3. Your ‘tummy’ – it’s simply adorable as fuck, you have no idea, that is all.
  4. When you make more money than we do – actually we don’t really care one way or another, it’s just not a thing.
  5. How you smell after a workout – sweaty and hot and a little stinky, it’s fresh and wholesome and appealing as hell.
  6. When you snore – we don’t feel so bad if you do it too.
  7. Your labia – is this even a question? Pussies are just plain gorgeous, every single one.
  8. When you wear your comfy lounging clothes – we love to see you relaxed and comfortable, it makes us feel the same.
  9. When you belch and fart – it shows that you feel confident and safe around us, bonus points for artistic flare.
  10. Your stretch marks and cellulite – when you let us see your imperfections we feel closer to you.
  11. Your body hair – grow it how you like, or not at all if you prefer, but whatever makes you feel sexy makes us feel it too.
  12. How your pussy smells – aroma is how your pussy talks dirty to us.
  13. When you tell us about your day – or about anything and everything important to you, anytime and always.

**** written by mystery man

Naked In Nature

One of my favourite things about doing Bodysex as a full weekend retreat is that it gives the women more time to settle in and enjoy a space where there are no roles or masks to wear. As the weekend goes on and our armour falls away, we loosen our bodies, open our arms, and celebrate the unique beauty, talents and gifts that each woman brings.

At my retreat this past March some of the women – along with a guitar, ukelele and drums – stayed up late writing the lyrics and music to a song they titled Naked in Nature. When they called me in to hear the final version I alternated between laughing and crying over each verse.  I don’t think there could be a better way to sum up what the Bodysex experience is all about than the words to this song, and if I could gift this experience to every single woman in the world I would.

The women who attend these retreats come from all backgrounds and work all kinds of professions. Our ages range from 20 – 68. We are all mothers, daughters or sisters. Some of us hate our bodies and some of us don’t. We all have different reasons for coming but regardless of what they are, we are all sexual and we are all brave.  Bodysex is a space to celebrate the freedom to be who we are,  our naked bodies, the depths of our pleasure and the mutual acceptance of each other – wherever we are on our own personal journey.

The lyrics to this song and the photos I’ve included give only a small glimpse of the incredible power of a group of women free to be “beauty-ful with nothing to hide.”

Naked In Nature

“I wanna be naked in nature
with the sun on my skin
I wanna be one with all things
around the place that I’m in

I wanna have sex on a secluded beach
with a blanket below me
a brown bag bottle within reach
and a northern light show (a plate of nachos)

I wanna be naked
I wanna be naked in nature
I wanna be naked
with the sun on my skin

I wanna be a body sex woman naked outside
masturbating on the grass with flies on my thighs

I wanna slip into the water
let it ripple my lips
turning and burning
with a swing in my hips

I wanna be naked
I wanna be naked in nature
I wanna be naked with the sun shining in

I wanna be one with my sisters
their hands on my skin
their love flowing over me
and soaking right in

join the circle
cum with me
leave your armour behind
we are all beauty-full
we’ve got nothing to hide

I wanna be naked
I wanna be naked in nature

I wanna be naked
with the sun on my skin

I wanna be naked 

I wanna be naked in nature

I wanna be naked with the sun shining in.”

**** lyrics by my beautiful Bodysex sisters. You know who you are.

****photos posted with permission.  Photo credit to Meghan Mickelson http://meghanmickelson.ca and Studio Stiina http://www.stiina.net

My next Bodysex retreat is June 2-4th. Book here: http://natashasalaash.com/summer-2017-bodysex-workshopretreat-date/

If You Look For The Light, The Light Is What You’ll Find

“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

This Body And The Stories Drawn On It, Are Me

I wrote the following blog post nearly 3 months ago yet haven’t had the courage to share it until today. Wondering what was holding me back I sat with it for awhile and realized that it isn’t that I’m afraid to be seen this way – that’s my old story.  It’s more that I’m afraid that in sharing my feelings about something that has been this difficult for me, I might being dismissed. I’ve heard many well intentioned women say to me “God if I had your stomach I’d be laughing” or “I don’t know why you’re so hard on yourself – I wish my stomach looked like yours.” I understand that they see theirs as much worse than mine but those words don’t make me feel better – they make me feel worse. They dismiss how deeply painful it was for me to not give birth naturally. How hard it is to have visual scars of pregnancy and yet no real birth story that gives me “credibility” amongst women. My shame is drawn in the scars on my stomach and today I’m saying fuck you to the shame. This is my mama tummy and I accept it.

Sept. 2016

We read and hear so much about self love, radical self love and the idea of loving our selves exactly as we are. I think that this kind of dialogue is important and the idea is a beautiful one, but I also think that in it’s own way it sets us up for disappointment and failure. When my teachers Betty and Carlin interviewed me for Bodysex facilitator training 2 and a half years ago, they told me that they believed the biggest gift that comes from Bodysex is self acceptance. They made a point of saying that this was more important than self love. At the time I didn’t fully understand what they meant, but I listened and held that idea in my mind as one of importance.

Body shame has always been a part of my life. As a teenager I remember feeling insecure about my small breasts and overly muscular legs. I thought that, like the women in Cosmo magazines, my breasts were supposed to touch together. When I had sex with my boyfriend I’d use my arms to push them in – hoping that he wouldn’t discover my “deformity.” The main source of my physical shame however, has been my stomach. Not only have I felt shame over how it looks from stretch marks and loose skin, but after losing one baby and giving birth to 4 by cesarean, the ever present scar has been a visible reminder of how my body failed me at what I’d wanted the most.

Late this summer I asked my friend Dana to take photos of me naked exposing my stomach. It felt like a monumental thing for me to do as I’ve always found ways to keep this area hidden. The meaning of shame is to cover and hide and a part of me has believed that if people knew what I really looked like or my full story they’d be disgusted.

As I stood having these photos taken I felt beautiful. It wasn’t that I necessarily loved my stomach the way it looked or that I loved all of the stories that brought me to this place. I may always mourn the stomach of my youth or the fact that my babies weren’t born naturally. But I can and do accept that this is how I look now and that my babies weren’t.

Fast forward to today and I’m soon to lead my 5th body sex circle. For the first time in my life I feel like I can understand what Betty and Carlin meant. And because this acceptance is true and not an attempt at some form of radical self love that isn’t really there, I no longer care if someone else doesn’t like my body, finds it unattractive or if they think I’m less of a mother for not giving birth naturally. I’ve nourished all 5 of my children with this body (plus a couple that weren’t my own) been cut open 4 times, given love and caused pain. I’ve experienced grief, loss, joys, endings and beginnings. Through all of this my body has carried me. This body and the stories drawn on it, are me. By accepting it and them, I accept me. 

*photo credit 1 – Stiina

*photo credit 2 – Dana Kellet

Each Fabric And Each Woman Has A Different Story

full-quilt

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.

lauren-in-quilt