The more Bodysex® workshops I do, the more I’m reminded how far I’ve come since I started this journey nearly 7 years ago. For the first several years, each workshop brought about massive shifts in me — as if I was literally digging up a proverbial pile of steaming, hot, shit from deep inside myself and hauling it out to look at and take apart. Sometimes I’d feel rejuvenated for weeks after and, sometimes completely raw and wiped out. As time went on —I learned that I always survive the vulnerability of this excavation — and I started to notice things feeling lighter and easier. The big, old pile of shit got smaller and smaller leaving only remnants of shit to scrape up — shit that comes from no longer having these old burdens to weigh me down. Shit that arises from feeling so aligned with myself and my values that it feels impossible to follow my old way of pleasing others or accommodating myself to fit into what I think others want of me. Getting rid of that massive pile of shit, makes me ask myself “If I’m not looking for others approval as my guide to what’s right and wrong for me: What is actually right and wrong for me? What are my values?”
This past weekend in Quebec Bodysex® , I noticed remnants of my old pile of shit — particularly around shame in pleasure. Much of my work revolves around pleasure and mostly I know I have a right to it and I exercise that right all the time. I don’t feel shame in masturbation, pleasure with my partner, fantasy etc. however, I can see that I still have societal conditioning around where it’s appropriate and how that’s tied into the ways I imagine others view me. As we sat down for lunch on the first day of the workshop, one woman said “pleasure is reason enough.” I have probably said that 100 times before but hearing it from her really made me wonder if I actually believe it in all areas of my life. Cognitively yes I do, but do I know it with my whole heart and soul? Do I align with that in my life? Am I still caught in what others would think of me if I enjoy things solely for pleasure or if I actually seek things out for pleasure? We explored this idea a lot throughout the workshop through fantasy, juicy stories from our lives and self pleasuring together. Those all felt very safe and comfortable for me because they fit in to what is already authentically aligned within me.
Raised in a Christian home by a minister who felt shame for pleasure, I think (as is true for many of us) shame has been passed down in my lineage. I feel shame to share that I’m going on a trip to Mexico with my family this winter (and that I’m really excited!), or to want a glass of wine on Friday night. I don’t feel shame in doing those things, I feel shame in wanting them because they’re pleasurable — like wanting things for pleasure is somehow wrong. I can feel shame that my touch at times might feel pleasurable to a client I’m working with in Intimacy Coaching, or that I might feel pleasure in their touch. On further reflection, I don’t feel shame that pleasure happens, I feel shame if I enjoy it.
Reflecting on my beautiful weekend in Quebec, and pondering all of this as I write, I can almost hear the metal shovel scraping the ground under this pile of shit. The pile isn’t big, these beliefs aren’t strong anymore, I know that pleasure heals and to feel it means I am present and alive and open and none of that is wrong — even though most of my life I was too shut off to feel it. I am alive and open to feel with my Bodysex® sisters, in dedicated time with my family, in sessions with my clients and in beautiful intimacy with my partner. I find it ironic that breaking down my conditioning has allowed me to be present enough to feel an enjoyment for pleasure itself and, that it’s in that very thing, that I feel the most shame.
Thank you to my Bodysex® sisters who’s unconditional love and acceptance helped me to get rid of a bit more of my shit and remind me that Pleasure is reason enough.
With love to:
Blossom, Wildy, Mangue Juteuse, Cock Licker, Heart, Mystery, Fantasia, Anahata, Rose, Happy Flower, Sunda, Papillon
This past year or so, I’d begun to feel like I’d “broken up” with my body. Four years ago I was diagnosed with thyroid cancer and had to have a tumor removed along with my right thyroid. For three years following that, my left thyroid took over the functioning and my body felt “normal” to me. Over the past year however, I’ve battled with sluggishness, fatigue, weight gain and just a general feeling that me and my body aren’t quite working together. I began taking thyroid hormones and iron pills this summer and have slowly felt my energy start to come back. Because of this disconnection with my body, leading up to the Quebec workshop I felt old feelings of shame that this would be visible, and wished I’d been able to lose weight before going – stuff I often hear other women say to me, but haven’t related to personally in a long time.
Sitting in the circle with women who speak mostly in French, gives me an opportunity to really attune to their bodies and listen to them beyond the words they’re speaking. (Marika graciously translates afterwards for me). It requires a deep presence and I notice many things I might not, if I were to focus on their words. The way their breath changes throughout their sharing, the rise and fall of their clavicles, legs or arms crossed that fall open, flush of skin. It reminds me of attuning to my lover in sexual intimacy where so much is said without words and the body tells its own stories.
In a way that I’ve never done before, I spent the weekend really watching the women in awe of their way of being, and imagining what a lover would notice and love about them. This happened organically — as I love fantasy — and anytime I’m drawn to something, a story of images starts to form in my mind. The women in the circle were a wonderful source of inspiration for this.
I imagined ………. a lover lying on the couch watching her spend the evening before the workshop cooking nourishing food for the potluck to be shared with the other women in the circle. I imagine them marveling at the generosity, time and the care she put into planning and preparing the meals at a time when she was likely nervous and excited about the weekend she was about to have.
I imagined……… a lover recognizing the vulnerability in her eyes, in the hesitance of her voice and the shortness of her breath as she speaks her story and shares what she truly wants.
I imagined……… a lover watching the jiggle of her bum as she walks away from him naked and wondering how she could ever be insecure about something that was surely made by a goddesses’ own hands.
I imagined…….. a lover noticing that she is becoming comfortable because her jaw has relaxed and her voice now flows smoothly from her mouth instead of seeping through tightly held lips.
I imagined……….. a lover inhaling her particular scent and pausing to breathe it all the way in. Savoring it as a symbol of the essence of her and enjoying it for hours after as it lingers on their fingers from touching her.
I imagined……… a lover feeling sad and lonely and longing for the most comforting place in the world — head on her chest and hands on the roundness of her belly, thighs, and breasts. The softness and squishiness that she sometimes tries to hide, just feels like home.
I imagined……… a lover watching her dance and wondering how they got so lucky as to have a goddess fall in love with them.
I imagined……… a lover delicately parting the petals of her vulva, watching it unfold before their eyes. I thought of them showing with their eyes and their words how much they adore this sacred part of her body.
I imagined……… a lover watching the flush rise up her chest as she orgasms.
I imagined…….. a lover thinking that what they love most about her is a sum of all the tiny little things and that being with her reminds them that life is really about the tiny little things.
Every fantasy we have, tells us a story about ourselves, and this one reminded me that the beauty of the women around me is multidimensional and not defined by one part. How was I any different than what I was seeing? Generosity, vulnerability, jiggles, relaxation, scent, softness, movement, delicate vulva petals, the flush of pleasure.
And just like that, me and my body are back together again.
Thank you to my sisters: Gaiananda, Frieda, Night sky, Anilla, Fleur de deese, Quetzalcoatl, Bella, Lotus, Lily, Houlaou, Butterfly bliss, Dancing queen.
For anyone who wonders what a Bodysex® experience can be like, or about what I do and why it means so much to me, ….. here is a powerful testimonial from a woman who was in the circle with me this month in Quebec.
I have one spot left open in Bodysex® Saskatoon Nov. 26-28.
“My challenge for the weekend was to free myself from my blockages in relation to pleasure and to reconnect with my body and its beauty, my beauty. I got naked, both physically and emotionally, in front of the magnificent group of women that we were. Still, that wasn’t the hardest part for me. It is rather to look at myself fully, straight in the soul and in the heart. Not just telling my story and the reasons why I had come to dislike my body, but rather looking at myself from within, in order to dust off and let the light in. There, I found love for myself, admiration and wonder for my body which carried life and which can now create differently. There, I found the desire to surrender to pleasure rather than get rid of it because of the fear of losing my balance. I reconnected with my senses and my inner joy. I was able to say “I am a woman in a sexual body and I have the right to pleasure”. By saying this sentence, I have freed myself from a socially accepted view of the female body and the stifling of its power. I chose to respect myself and name my wants and needs rather than accept everything with the fear of hurting. I also learned to love my vulva, despite or rather thanks to its difference. Natasha has helped a lot in this process, because she knows how to put us at ease.
A week after the workshop, I still feel beautiful, inside and out. I feel powerful, alive and grateful. I really needed this workshop, this feeling of deep and authentic connection with other women. Each of them came to enlighten a part of me through their shared experience. I found it so beautiful to feel that despite our sometimes very different life stories, we were all linked by similar aspirations and challenges. I recommend to all those who hesitate to participate in the Bodysex workshop to dare step out of their comfort zone and dive into the pleasure zone! No matter what level the job needs to be done, the weekend will take you in leaps and bounds towards greater happiness and better self-knowledge. I could go on and on talking about the workshop…I am so deeply grateful for Natasha and Marika for having led it by goddesses hands. Thank you for offering this space of transformation and liberation. Thank you for everything!”
I spent a night with my friend and Bodysex® sister on the beach this summer. As soon as we found a quiet spot — we got naked, made a fire, cooked dinner, practiced peeing right where we’re sitting, shared stories and talked about how vulnerable it can feel to follow our hearts and really own it. This blog is inspired by her and my Bodysex® experiences:
Bodysex® reminds me of the sacredness of my own pleasure. That it’s my right as a human being to feel pleasure. Bodysex® reminds me that in the absence of a partner, or if I’m with a partner who’s unwilling to fully support my pleasure — I know my own body and can pleasure myself. That with this tool I never have to live a pleasureless life again — never have to have pleasureless sex again. That it’s okay to want a partner to be as good as I am (with myself) in bed.
Bodysex® reminds me of the familiar softness of a woman’s body and why it’s beautiful to look at and to touch. It reminds me that we all look better without clothes on, that the jiggles are super hot and fun to play with, and why our lovers are lucky to touch and make love to us. We feel so good. We, as everyday women, are goddesses.
Bodysex® reminds me of why women were persecuted for being “whores” and “witches.” That in our embodied pleasure we are magical, mystical beings that would obviously cause fear in insecure men. When we realize our magic, we can no longer be oppressed and, for those brave enough to love us, we share our magic with them.
Bodysex® reminds me why I need in person connections to feel seen. I’m a multidimensional woman and I want to be seen as that. I’m sexual, yet not just that. I’m motherly, yet not just that. Sometimes I do great things, but I’m not only that. Sometimes I do shitty things, but I’m not only that. I’m like a quilt with many different squares and colours and sections torn and frayed while others are intact. I want to be seen as all of that.
Bodysex® reminds me through stories, body language, eyes and sounds of our pleasure that we are all of these things. Sexual, soft, magical, multidimensional, goddess, witches. What is better than that?
We Don’t Need to Be Unwounded to Help Others, We Just Need to have an Intimate and Honest Relationship with Our Wounds
These past couple of years, I’ve become very acquainted with the gifts and limitations of my wounds and how to tell the difference between the two. Helping or loving anyone from a wounded place can result in support that is either unhelpful or damaging. As parents, healers, ministers, helpers, therapists or support persons we don’t need to be unwounded to help others — we just need to have an intimate and honest relationship with our wounds so that it’s clear to everyone involved, who we are trying to “help.” I compare this to getting to know a lover. Seeking to know them inside and out — their strengths, depths, triggers and potential go-to behaviours when they (or I) just. want. to. stop. the. bleeding.
While I learned about all of this through counselling classes and other trainings I’ve done, the greatest teacher for me has been through my intimate relationships. Nothing matters to me as much as my children, partner, family and friends do, and yet — no other area of my life touches my wounds as much as they do. Because of this, I’ve learned to recognize the dysregulation in my body when my wounds have opened, to slow down, pause and be present to what is actually real in the moment.
There are 2 memories that stand out as for me as vivid reminders of what my wounded vs. unwounded help looks and feels like. In one — I’m standing at my eldest sons door, trying to help him grieve and find a reason to keep going after losing his friend from suicide. He keeps saying “don’t yell at me” and I can’t understand why he’s saying this when I’m not raising my voice at all. Only later do I realize that what he was feeling, was that my support (while good intentioned) was from a desperate place of fear that I’m going to lose him too, rather than from a place of present listening to him and what he actually needed from me.
The second memory happened a year and a half later — I’m holding in my arms a friend and mother who lost her son to suicide only a few days earlier. As she sobs, I feel the bones in her spine under my fingers, smell the shampoo in her hair and see her sons’ shoes on the porch floor under our feet. The difference between the 2 memories of myself is: grasping, desperation vs. generous, loving presence.
Since then, I use these memories as a reminder that when I’m helping anyone, there are 2 choices I can make — like 2 doors to open in my heart.
There are 2 doors in my heart — each with a sign on them that says “helping.” Apart from the signs, the doors look very different.
One is like those old saloon doors that have no handle and swing open without warning or thought to who is on the other side. Beyond the swinging door, the ground drops away immediately so that as soon as I step in — as fast as the door swings open — I fall into a big pit of gooey tar. There is no bottom to the pit and once in it, I have to tread tar to stay up. The tar is sticky and heavy and I have to not only tread fast enough to stay up, but also to keep it from hardening around me. Glancing around the tar pit I notice what I hadn’t noticed before — that the person I was trying to help, is in here treading tar with me. It’s difficult to see them for who they truly are in here — someone hurting and needing support while also fully capable of surviving this pain. All I can see is both of us, desperately trying not to drown in the tar while their eyes plead with mine to save them. This door represents the wounded part of me that when triggered, can’t always tell my wound from another’s in this pit.
The other door in my heart is wooden with a large stain glass window in it and I can tell from the way the colours in the glass sparkle onto my face and chest that there is a lot of light on the other side. This door is made with such obvious care that I can almost imagine whomever made it, hand planing and sanding it until it was smooth to touch. The handle is one that needs to be turned in order to open the door and as I reach down to turn it I’m present to every sensory detail I see and feel. Being so well cared for, this door makes me feel present, loving and generous before I even open it. Turning the handle and gently easing the door forward, I can see the person on the other side standing on the grass with light glowing around them. I notice the deep pain in their eyes, the quiver in their lip and the dysregulation in their chest as they breathe. When I reach out to hug them I smell the faint scent of soap in their hair and feel the bones in their spine with my fingertips. I am as present as humanly possible to what they’re going through and, while I can absolutely feel their pain and imagine with every vein in my body how it feels, I never once see it as my own or as my responsibility to fix. I am simply there for them, in whatever way they need, on their journey of healing.
Before I help anyone, I take a breath, pause at the entry of these doors and ask myself which one I’m about to go through.
***In loving memory of Thomas Schorr and his loving mama.
With Covid, decreasing I feel confident to set some dates for Bodysex retreats this fall! Here is the info for my Saskatoon one if you’re interested in booking. I cannot wait to be in circle again!
Having more time at home with my family this past year has given me time to reflect on my life, values, the work I do and my reasons for doing it. This time of reflection has strengthened my resolve to wait for in person workshops to resume, rather than converting them to online delivery. It’s also reminded me of the value I get from my work that doesn’t come from the fee, but from my experiences with the people I work with. I do this work for reasons that online formats and money can’t provide me.
I do this work for…… the initially awkward and distant couple who is struggling to bridge the divide between them. For the moment that one of them softens, turns towards the other, looks up into their eyes and shows them — sometimes for the first time — that they are willing to do their part to break through their divide.
I do this work for…… the people who are afraid there is something horribly wrong with their body and that no one would ever love them if they see it. I do it for the moment that we show each other our bodies and they realize that just like me, they are okay as they are — exactly as they are — and that someone who loves them will think so too.
I do this work for…… the middle aged married woman who brings herself to orgasm for the first time in her life and, through her tears, cries over and over “I’m normal!”
I do this work for…… the seemingly cocky man who ends up admitting that he needs help because he’s scared in intimacy, can’t relax enough to get aroused and is so afraid of making a mistake that he can’t even listen to his partner. I do it for the moment he learns what relaxation feels like in his body and that arousal happens naturally when he takes time to allow it. I do it for the emails he excitedly sends after sessions telling me how he was able to hear his partner for the first time and that he allowed himself the time to become fully aroused in sex.
I do this work for…… the moments in Bodysex retreats that happen after workshop hours are over. When I see Justine lovingly adorn a naked woman’s scars with henna, cuddle piles in different corners of the room, shared laughter over stories and experiences of women from different ages and walks of life.
I do this work for……. what I learn about a Counselling client from the moments they break eye contact with me, look down at the floor, shift their legs, say “ummm,” start playing with their hair, bite their lip or fold their hands across their stomach. I may not know what any of these necessarily mean for them, but I know there’s something there. By being present with them, I can notice and ask them about it.
I do this work for…… the child with ADHD who feels completely misunderstood and doesn’t understand why they’re in trouble for something they did. I do it for the moment they tell me why they did it (which most often makes perfect sense) and the recognition and love on their parents face as they understand for the first time.
I do this work for…..me.
I love my work and miss the group workshops, and more in person interactions. And yet, I also don’t want to do it any other way. So — just like edging an orgasm — I’m patiently enjoying this time as a gift for what it’s showing me, and will fully celebrate the groups( and the orgasms) when they happen.<3
Happy Valentines day from my cold ass to yours! I hope that we can all feel love within ourselves to have a day sprinkled with self compassion and grace for the journey we’ve travelled, the mistakes we’ve made, our wobbly parts and all things in between. Happy valentines day to me, to you, to life! (And all the warm naked beach days to come)
I woke up this morning in my quiet house with my children still sleeping. Drinking tea with the sun shining through the window onto my bare legs, this story — which had just been seen and felt in parts throughout the last year — flowed completely through me. I wish I could read it to you, so you could close your eyes (as I like to imagine you would) and with each word feel the river touching your legs and teasing you forward in it’s flow. But this will have to do.
I see myself floating down a river, the wind softly blowing my hair, sun on my neck, holding hands with someone I love. The flowing water is as clear as a mountain spring and under it are rocks which sometimes jut out, causing us to maneuver our bodies around them so we don’t get hurt as we float. The banks are high enough on the sides and I smile when I see animals have made houses in the dirt along the edge. There are branches sticking out from the banks — some worn smooth by the water that flows over them at times, and some so sharp that we need to duck at just the right times to not get hurt by them. There are some shallow sections in the river where we often stop to play, laying half in and half out of the water, feeling the slight lull of it flowing over our legs as the sun warms the rest of our bodies. Sometimes we choose to spend days in these parts of the river exploring and being with the flow but not moving very far at all. In these places — between fully floating and totally stuck — we often find the best treasures, difficult to explain to anyone after, but nevertheless treasures that deeply impact the way we float on.
Inevitably as we choose to continue on, the river changes again and we float together, until both of us get caught in a pile of branches that’s pooled along one side of the river. On my side the branches are less thick (this time) and I carry on with only minimal effort to free myself. The force of us getting caught though is enough to tear our hands apart and, while I notice the disconnect right away, it takes me a minute to stop because I’m still flowing along with the river. Stopping myself is difficult and it requires a great deal of energy to push backwards against the flowing river. I do it though, because I chose to float the river with this person and I’m not going to leave them behind just because they’re “stuck” in the branches. I want to keep floating with them. So I paddle against the current, breathing heavily as I slowly move back wards towards where they’re “stuck” in the branches. Once I get there I grab onto the pile and use it to pull me around closer to them and then, still unable to reach them in their pile, I choose to tread water alongside them while we try to figure a way to get them out.
I love being beside the people I love at all parts of the river – even if they or I am stuck in the branches. Yet at some point, often after days of trying to figure out how to get them unstuck, I feel a deep hole of fear in my belly and hear a little girls voice telling me that “I need to get them out, or I’ll lose them.” Already tired from days of treading water to stay in one place against the current, I franticly try thinking of other ways to “help” them. If I can just lift one arm out to grab the branches and toss them down the river maybe I can free them. So I try this, constantly being forced forward each time I lift an arm out to grab a branch, toss it and then swim back against the current to where I was treading water beside them. I do however manage to remove a few branches this way. Sometimes the branches are tangled up too much though and instead of the easier task of just grabbing and throwing them, I have to hold onto the pile and work to untangle them while fighting against the river seemingly wanting to pull my legs forward to see what’s around the next bend. The top half of my body is pulled backwards as I work to untangle branches and the bottom half is pulled forwards with the flowing river — I must appear to be in such conflict with myself. But “I’m not!” I tell myself in a strangely child like voice. “I’m simply “helping” this person, whom I love, become unstuck so we can once again float the river together.”
My efforts feel fairly grand, so grand that at times I imagine that this is the point of the story (if there was one) where the narrator would describe me in heroic ways. Pausing to think of how heroic I am, I look at the person in the middle of the branches and see that they’re not sweating or panting at all. They’re merely sitting — what looks like – comfortably amongst the pile of branches. “But they can’t be content to stay here I tell myself,” feeling that awful hollow hole of fear in my belly. “They MUST want to come along. They always said they wanted to do this and when they got stuck they called for me to come back. They must still want it.” Conflicted by this I grab on tighter and watch them, waiting for a sign that they do want to come with me. In this pause I notice how deep the hole feels in my stomach and how hard the river is pulling my legs forward and how much I want to allow it. But “I can’t just leave them here” says the little girls voice in my head. “Good people don’t do that. Good people stay and fight no matter how hard the river is pulling them forward. It’s for them that I’m doing it!”
In this moment — the moment in the story where time stands still and the whole scene seems so perfectly clear — I feel the irony in my words and hear a woman’s voice speak over the little girls saying “Just as I have the choice to let the river carry me, they have the choice to stay. Both are choices and regardless of whether one is to stay and one is to go, it doesn’t mean anyone is leaving anyone.” Paused in time for a second while I contemplate what she is saying, I notice that the hole of fear in my belly is gone and……. just like that I let go. Like the most beautiful orgasm in the universe I’m carried forward, swept into the ebbs and flows of the current and the wind in my hair and sun on my neck. I look back for a second and see the person in the branches, right before I’m swept into another orgasmic current, smiling at me lovingly and experiencing life in the way they are choosing. I smile back at them with a smile full of absolute love, then close my eyes and float on with the life I am choosing carried forward with the sound of the woman’s voice whispering softly in my ear “It’s all choice. We all choose each day to flow or to stop flowing. The only way I will lose them is if I stop my own flow.”
**** Dedicated to one of the many partners on my river :Justine. Thank you for reminding me of my own choice and my own voice. <3
Betty Dodson® and Bodysex® are registered trademarks of the Betty Dodson Foundation