I was 34 when I first noticed the stirrings in my body that people call desire. I had just weaned my 5th child and my body seemed to sense that my time for nourishing babies was over. Like a magnet being pulled towards a force, my vulva felt ripe, charged and open. Up until this point sex had always been something I did for someone else’s pleasure, to be a good wife or girl friend, or to feel loved. I had never orgasmed during sex or been pleasured by anyone else to the point of orgasm. In fact, looking back, I’m not sure any man that I had been with had even tried to pleasure me. I masturbated in secret at times — just to get a quick fix — feeling awful shame and guilt that I was “cheating.”
These new feelings of desire excited me and brought awareness to my body and caring for it in ways I hadn’t thought of for 13 years — when all of my focus had been on supporting and raising others.I became more aware of how different foods made me feel and began to exercise and take dance classes. Curious about the near constant stirrings in my genitals, I sought out every book that I could find on desire, pleasure, orgasm and sex. I invited my then husband to read a book with me so that we could explore the activities in it together and he responded by suggesting that I read it and tell him what to do. I understood then that sharing pleasure with mewasn’t a priority for him.
Discouraged but not defeated I kept searching for a book that would help me learn, and in my search came across Betty Dodson’s book “Sex For One.”Finally I’d found a book about sex, pleasure, desire and orgasm that didn’t require having a willing partner to practice things with. With Betty’s help I began to practice masturbating using my hands and — with patience, persistence and the help of a timer — become orgasmic in this way for the first time! Being able to bring myself to orgasm with my hands also meant that I could orgasm during penetrative sex with my partner — as long as I was willing to help myself out. Sex changed for me once I knew what worked for my body and I celebrated the fact that I didn’t need to have pleasureless sex ever again. I loved Betty’s philosophy of taking ownership of your pleasure and not waiting on or blaming anyone else for a lack of it. I became epically good at pleasuring myself and my husband enjoyed the fact that I wanted sex everyday — until he wondered if I might be liking it too much.
When our marriage ended I continued pleasuring myself in soft and gentle ways that still included orgasm but were more focused on making love than sex. I made love to myself in front of a mirror keeping eye contact the whole time. I tried different positions, sounds, breathing patterns — exploring what felt good for me. Touching my body — in a way that I wished a lover would touch me — helped me through that time and also helped me begin to love and accept myself. Masturbation became so much more to me than a quick fix and I devoted hours of my time to it. Spending so much time intimately with myself helped me to recognize parts of my body that I hated (the ones I avoided touching) and provided me with opportunity to give those parts more love. I became my own lover, my own emotional support and my own source of pleasure. The self pleasure was good for my self esteem too as — realizing how good I felt to touch, I imagined my body would feel good to someone else too.
My “self skills” also helped me become more discerning with new partners because I knew how to have pleasure on my own and I no longer felt like sex was what I needed to do to feel loved. I remember one situation where I stopped right in the middle of making out with a guy and told him I was done. It was a one time encounter and it became clear to me that the only way I would have any pleasure with him would be if I did it myself — which I knew I could just as easily do after he was gone. He was shocked and asked if I would at least give him a blow job which of course I said no to. (Note that he didn’t ask if he could pleasure me) The high from choosing for myself and saying no instead of “enduring” unreciprocated pleasure, was like nothing else, and once again I was grateful that learning self pleasure meant learning to take care of myself in more ways than one. That night I had incredible sex with a partner who knew just what I liked and who loved me too — ME! After that I discovered that men were usually happy that I could bring myself to orgasm with some trying to pleasure me and others not bothering to. Some were intimidated by my relationship with myself and looking back I can see why, but I was so used to having to rely only on me that I knew no other way.
My path hasn’t been seamless and I’ve made many mistakes in an effort to untangle old patterns and beliefs around sex, worthiness and love — yet the whole time the one solid I’ve had through my journey is me. I’ve been there for myself in love and pleasure no matter what was happening or who I was with. Today I’m in a relationship with a man who’s as good at pleasuring me as I am, and I recognize it as a beautiful gift to have someone excited to explore and share with me. Having relied on myself for so long it isn’t always easy for me to receive from him and I still battle with fears of him not wanting to put in the time or effort for me. But he continues to — in non demanding and non expectant ways — and each time I respond by softening and trusting more.As good as I am at doing it alone, it’s wonderful to have someone who wants to do it with me.
Desire throbs between my legs everyday and I know the source and abundance of it depend on me — in my love for myself…for pleasure….for life. Like any relationship worth keeping, I don’t take it for granted and make sure to devote time alone in pleasure and love with myself often. Soft lips that swell under my fingertips. Wetness. Curves. Stretch marks. Squishy tummy. Scars. Each time I touch my body I don’t have to imagine that it would feel good to someone else, I know — because it feels good to me.
Those who know me, know that I love story telling and fantasy. As I sat down to write about last weekend’s Bodysex retreat, I kept seeing the images from it in my mind like some grand fantasy. No matter how hard I tried to stay focused on writing a “proper blog” the images wouldn’t stop. So I gave up trying and here it is.…
Once upon a time there was a woman who loved to be naked. She was in her early 40’s — a mother — who looked regular on the outside yet felt like a goddess of fire on the inside. Sometimes the fire inside her burned so hot that she imagined there was a pot sitting on it, bubbling upwards and outwards from her vulva. On days where the pot would bubble higher —she wondered, in both fear and excitement, what would happen if it boiled over.
This woman enjoyed being naked and pleasuring herself so much that she decided to invite other women to spend a weekend with her, celebrating in nudity and pleasure together. Not surprisingly she discovered that there were many other women like her — regular on the outside yet goddesses of fire on the inside — longing to celebrate their heat fully.
She knew that celebrating in this way was not “normal” where she lived or anywhere really, but she was called to do this more than anything else in her life. She spent months thinking of the women before they came, wondering what their stories were, what they longed for, and if they too felt the heat of a rising, bubbling pot in their vulvas. She also spent a great deal of time preparing the weekend for them. She wanted them to feel like goddesses staying in a beautiful country, with a castle to sleep in and plenty of food to nourish them. She first found the castle — making sure it had plenty of space for the women to wander the grounds naked, then searched far and wide for a chef who could prepare delicious dishes to please their bodies and fuel their pleasure. Finally she elicited help from the goddess of art who also loved to be naked and found great pleasure in adorning the women’s bodies with her elaborate designs.
Whenthe day finally arrived for the women to come, she blessed the space in the most sacred and powerful way she knew how. Laying down in the centre of it, she traced the length of her body with her fingers adding heat to her already bubbling pot. As the pot bubbled and her pleasure built ,the ceiling above her began to fill with colours and stars. Imagining that it was the sky above her— they came together, with the sky ejaculating a thousand tiny stars upon her body and the space around her. Content that the castle was now sacred enough for the goddesses to enter, she and the goddess of art, went to greet the women as they arrived.
One by one they came through the castle doors shedding layers of fabric that didn’t do justice to the bodies beneath them. Overwhelmed by the visions of such beauty, they welcomed the women into the space that had been so beautifully blessed merely moments before. As the goddesses took turns sharing stories about what had both dimmed and fuelled their fires, the woman realized with surprise that they all appeared more naked than before. She was sure that each one had removed their clothes upon entering, and that she herself had been naked all morning, and yet here they were taking off another layer of clothing.
As the day wore on, the women couldn’t contain their curiosity over what fuelled the fire under their pot and agreed that it was was essential to take a closer look. With mirror and lamp in hand, one by one, they spread their legs and opened their vulvas to each other — excited and nervous to see what they’d find. They were astonished to discover what appeared to be flowers growing out from between their legs. Even more surprising was that each woman’s flower was unique. Shiny, smooth, plush, rumpled, flowing, sleek, delicate, bold, dark, bright and a mix of both— each one different from the rest, like a field of wild flowers, and yet none more beautiful than the other. After exploring all of their flowers, both inside and out, the women marvelled at the lucky bees which came to taste the nectar hidden deep inside.
The women spent the rest of the evening and following morning sharing, laughing, being adorned with art, and noticing with surprise that the more they let their flowers open, the more clothing they shed.The opening wasn’t always easy and the women often felt conflicted with appearing one way on the outside and feeling another way on the inside. And of course they allwondered what would happen if the fire in their vulvas became too hot and their pots boiled over.
More naked still, and feeling brave from the deepened trust and connection, the women decided that it was time to play with the flowers that peeked out from beneath their legs and see what would happen to their already burning fire. Forming a circle they once again opened their legs and, with all of their flowers exposed at once, began to play. Like bees they buzzed and danced around the edges of their flowers — sometimes plunging in to taste the nectar — and sometimes teasing the petals, encouraging the nectar to trickle out. Their inner fires burned on and amidst the buzzing you could hear their bubbling pots rising higher than ever before.
All of a sudden, the clouds outside moved and the sun shone through the windows of the castle directly upon the flower of one of the goddesses who had at times, seemed slightly more reserved than some of the others. The other goddesses watched in awe as her flower opened up in full bloom before them. Crying and shaking in pleasure, her boiling pot spilled over the edges of her petals touching each of the other women. What they were touched by surprised them as it was not something you could feel with your fingers or see with your eyes. What came from her pot was simply more of HER. Her stories, her dreams, her hopes, her pleasures, her sorrow and her joys.
No longer afraid of their own pots boiling over, the other women let their flowers open wide and within minutes the entire room was in full bloom with each goddess spilling over the edges of their petals — being touched by the full celebration of who they are.
As they said goodbye the next day and left the castle, the women noticed that they no longer appeared regular on the outside and that, in fact, no one else appeared regular to them either. Could it be, they wondered, that we are all gods and goddesses with fires and boiling pots inside, simply afraid of showing who we are?
Dedicated with love to:Turtle, Princess tulip, Poretta,Maleficent, Becky, Beyonce, Lola, Pearl,Rapunzel, Boss lady, Unicorn, Coral, and all of the other goddesses I have sat in the circle with.
She’s a woman in her 50’s,
lying naked on my bed masturbating.
Never having orgasmed before she’s come asking for help. Sitting beside her I watch her body move as she touches herself, clearly enjoying the pleasure.
The skin on her chest starts to flush telling me she’s close to orgasm.
I wish I could capture this moment so she could see how beautiful she looks,
but I stay still, not wanting to disturb her. As the flush on her chest begins to climb to her neck I notice her crease her brow.
Leaning forward I softly touch her face, guiding her to soften too.
“I’m scared” she says. “I don’t know what it’s going to feel like.”
“I’m here with you” I say. “Your pleasure looks so beautiful on you.”
She starts to cry and continues to masturbate,
the flush on her neck now covering the lower half of her face.
The sounds of her orgasm fill my room, followed by the sounds of her sobbing. Smiling through my tears I think “this is what half a century of release looks like” and I’m grateful for the honour of being there with her.
It’s not about feeling better, it’s about feeling more.
Sometimes I’m afraid to look because I don’t want to see the
pain she holds tightly behind her eyes.
I fuss around her, caring for her in other ways
not quite trusting my own ability to cope with it. Knowing that this isn’t right and that I can’t avoid it any longer,
I look — really look — feel her sadness, and begin to cry.
At the sight of my tears,
she turns away — not wanting to see my pain. “We can do this. I know we can” I say to myself, and I continue to look at her until she turns back to look at me.
Holding each other, we cry. We are doing this.
It’s not about feeling better, it’s about feeling more.
She’s sitting across from me in the circle beginning to tell the story of her past trauma and pain. As the words fall out of her mouth, her chest heaves then collapses while her eyes plead with me to rescue her.
The woman beside her looks at me as well motioning with her own eyes for me to do something. My eyes lock with the woman sharing and I reassure her — without words —that I’m here,
she’s a survivor and she doesn’t need rescuing. We’re holding space for her.
Taking a deep breath in, and then out, I watch her body slowly land on her exhale. Her chest lifts and she continues her story.
It’s not about feeling better, it’s about feeling more.
I’m on my back lying under him,
our bodies moving and breathing together,
like a circle, in and out, around and around. His eyes don’t leave mine and I wonder, for a second,if he ever blinks. What does he see when he looks at me in my pleasure?
Is it okay? Am I okay?
I feel heat and energy rising from my vulva to my chest
and I breathe into it,
feeling full — over filled. “I’m going to cry” I say embarrassed, “but it’s not bad.” And I do. I cry through my pleasure while he holds me, breathing in the air that I breathe out.
It’s not about feeling better, it’s about feeling more.
I received an email the other day from a woman who had questions about her body, orgasms and pleasure response. I love answering these questions and am always happy to do it, yet our exchange reminded me of how much can’t be taught.
I think it’s easy to imagine that others have the wisdom we need and that if we attend certain workshops or sessions, read specific books, or listen to the right podcasts, we’ll find the answers. It’s true that there are many facilitators and teachers who have much to offer and that through listening, reading and asking questions we can learn and bring awareness to aspects of ourselves that we hadn’t recognized before. I’ve learned from many teachers over the past several years and yet what always stands out, and what I’m continually relearning, is that the answers are with in me, not with out.
Pleasure, orgasm and intimacy are about connecting to and feeling from our innermost selves, and the greatest teacher we have is literally at our fingertips, in our breath, tastebuds, sight and hearing. It’s simply a matter of opening and listening to what can be felt. This takes time, commitment, willingness and presence. It isn’t easy nor does it happen in a clearly defined five step process.
When we touch our body with the curiosity and wonder we would have if we touched a treasured lover, we will discover pleasure.
If we imagine our breath as a vehicle carrying pleasure through our body and that we can speed it up, slow it down, make it stop and start, go round in circles or drive any way we want, we will discover pleasure.
If we practice opening our legs, our mouths, our hearts and our vulvas while we touch, we will discover pleasure.
If we relax our vocal chords and let out whatever noises want to come out – from deep gutteral sounds to high pitched squeals – we will discover pleasure.
If we slow down our eating, taking small bites of our food, letting it roll around our mouth so that we can not only taste, but also feel the food, we will discover pleasure.
If we listen to music with our eyes closed and allow the vibrations to play through our body, we will feel pleasure.
If you are on a path to discover and explore your sexuality, I think it’s absolutely worthwhile to seek out and explore the knowledge and wisdom of sexually empowered teachers. I also believe that the greatest guides and teachers will continually lead you back in the direction of the greatest wisdom of all – yourself.
**I write this in thanks to Betty Dodson, the first teacher on my path to discovering my sexuality, that pointed me back to my self.
**** The following quotes and photos have been shared with permission by women who have attended at least one my Bodysex Retreats. Thanks to all of you for showing up and celebrating pleasure with me. <3
“Bodysex has been a long awaited sexual awakening. As we know by the #metoo most of us women experience some kind of sexual assault/abuse at some time in our lives. I now realize My way to deal with it was through anger and advocacy. However that didn’t leave much room for me to be sexual. Somehow it felt wrong, something that men “did”to women. Bodysex has given me the permission to realize and celebrate my own sexual power as something sacred.”
“As a trauma survivor, I was stuck in a cycle of physical and emotional pain. Experiencing physical pleasure helped me learn that the path out of pain can begin with pleasure.”
“I turn myself on!”
“It’s given me permission to fantasize and enjoy my fantasies without feeling shame”
“Now I can have fun with sex! Be playful and dirty instead of timid and repressed. Sex should be FUN!”
“Until I attended BodySex, I had lived my life believing that sexual self pleasure is wrong and shameful. This base of shame extended into partnered sexual experiences, leaving me feeling shame rather than joy. Now I’m capable of examining those feelings of shame, dissecting them and coming into myself as a powerful, sexual woman. I know what I want and I’m not afraid to ask for it.”
“I felt shame and rejection for wanting more from sex – and more often – than my partner. I was ashamed of having a strong sexual desire, and the weekend helped me frame this in a positive and powerful way. I feel empowered to satisfy myself as needed- and it’s made sex in my marriage especially amazing (when it happens! Ha ha) because I’m giving more and focusing less on receiving. “
“I am totally independently orgasmic and it is amazing!!! I’m like a young teenager horny as hell…..building up my muscles, discovering new feelings, excited to have something to look forward to everyday with myself. I feel like I’m finally part of the club!”
“I’m open to sexuality and fun in daily experiences. For me, that’s strength, directly related to the normalcy that bodysex allows for sexy thoughts without shame.”
My sexuality is a part of – not separate from my daily life. Something that I live — a way of being — rather than a goal I reach. When I’m conscious, present and willing to be vulnerable, my orgasms serve as a window into my wellbeing. My orgasms are ME.