Happy Valentine’s Day. I’m wearing red. Maybe you are, too. Maybe you’re thinking about flowers and chocolate and other things to celebrate this day.
Whether you’re partnered or not, I thought I’d share with you what happened last night in my world. For 7 years my friend Pooja Karina and I have offered a pre-Valentine’s event for local women called “Adoring the Beloved of Yourself.”
It’s so easy to assume that Valentine’s day is for people who have partners. That’s the obvious conclusion. But what I know is that what’s most important thing about this day is LOVE. Celebrating this holiday that someone put on the calendar in February is really an opportunity to celebrate self-love.
So last night, with 20 women sitting in a circle we talked about what it is to enjoy and really live in the pleasures that are here in the moment… instead of denying ourselves, overworking, and then vegging-out into all sorts of things that are just not that reverent to ourselves.
Looking ahead, these women each made a commitment for the next 40 days. Just as Lent is a set period of time for letting go of pleasures, this is a time for prioritizing the pleasures that help us to enjoy every moment… not the pleasures that we have to buy, but those here, now.
Women decided to commit to enjoying the bird song every morning, now that the birds are returning. Others chose to promise to touch their bodies first thing in the morning before they get out of bed, appreciating how well it works and how beautiful it feels.
There are so many ways to prioritize the beauty and pleasure of life instead of suffering, instead of slogging through and then not really giving yourself what you need.
So I invite you to do this, too… to make a commitment to yourself for the next period of time. Would you devote yourself to one practice that honors in the beauty and reverence for your body and senses enjoying present moment pleasure.
You can write your commitment below and share it with us. My promise is to put on the calendar a 5-minute break to dance every day, just to enjoy music. I love to dance. And I get busy and just don’t do it.
Let me know below what pleasure you’ll promise yourself this Valentine’s Day.
I arrived back home Sunday morning from a week in Mexico leading my women’s retreat, “Awakening Your Divine Feminine Self – A Deeper Turn-ON.”
When I got home I made the video BELOW because I want anyone to experience what we just lived in Mexico on retreat.
And sure, you can get this without traveling 3000 miles, but on the other hand, sometimes we need to break the pattern we’re stuck in — and then the best thing to do might just be to go really far far away in a totally different environment… maybe like Costa Rica a month from now!
No matter where you are right now, here are 3 tips, 3 simple practices that can make your experience more powerful and delicious.
- Look out the window. Just look outside. Be here quietly. We did a sit spot – a practice I learned from Jon Young – for 20 minutes every day. But a breath, just a short minute, can hugely expand you awareness and pleasure. Just sit here quietly and experience what’s here in your environment.
- Watch your senses. Watch what you hear. Watch what you smell. Watch what you feel. Watch the experience of seeing what’s there, really noticing the contrasts, noticing the percussiveness of sounds. Just noticing what’s there. Don’t make it right or wrong. Just be in the moment.
- Feel your body. Feel where you’re sitting. Feel the sense of this being in this space… and not the thoughts that can go along with whatever you’re feeling. We’re so in our thoughts – and out of our body – so much of the time.
That’s it. Those are 3 of the simple practices that we landed in Mexico to bring presence, pleasure and delight, right here, right now, no matter where you are.
Take these tips into your life, especially if you’re in the chilly north. And let me know down below, right now, which one you’re ready to make part of your daily practices. I consider each of them a meditation, as fully as I do my traditional sitting practice.
And if your appetite’s been whetted, I’m off to warmer climates again in March – this time to Costa Rica with Katherine Miller, menopause expert and dear friend. Learn to expand your pleasure potential by establishing habits of reverent self-care. See more here or email at firstname.lastname@example.org for more juicy details.
Brrr, it’s cold outside this morning.
There’s no doubt that winter is coming!!
If you’ve started to dream about escaping to some warm spot this winter,
you might know already that you need more than just a vacation.
You know you want to come back with more than just memories.
You need to to come home to yourself!
… with real tools to warm the winter from the inside out,
no matter how cold it is outside.
This is why I take women with me to Mexico every January.
Don’t get me wrong…
I love sand between my toes.
Sun softening my tight muscles.
Whales playing in the distance.
But I know from years of experience
that women need more than just a break.
We can’t help but lose our innate connection to joy living like we do.
Isn’t it obvious?
The feminine withers with constant productivity.
…living tethered to our lists.
…falling into bed at night, too exhausted for pleasure.
…always feeling there’s more to do and never enough time!
If this is what happens to us living in this hyper-masculine world,
what we MUST HAVE are practical tools to come home to ourselves!
We need to laugh and play and dance in these beautiful bodies,
in the company of women, seeing us in our best.
We need to remember what truly sources our pleasure,
deeper than our usual escapes.
We need to learn simple practices –– ways of being – not just doing,
that can easily be infused to lighten the daily grind back home.
BUT MOST OF ALL
we need to shift the way we think about ourselves.
And that, Dear Women, takes more than sitting in a therapist’s chair,
or reading the best self-help books,
or listening every Sunday to Oprah’s inspirations.
The shift I’m talking about takes time.
And a reframe toward beauty.
So, please, feel into yourself right now.
Is this shift what you’re most wanting?
I’ve made time in my schedule this week for one-on-one conversations.
Because that’s often what we need to get clear.
No convincing. No cajoling. We have enough of that every day.
Just real talk about how your life is going and what might help.
You can book a time here on my coaching page.
No matter what this winter holds for you,
You deserve to live your most joyous and fulfilled life.
I don’t remember an autumn like this one. Every week, some new assault. History-making hurricanes, fires, and political revelations feel like the new normal. I feel the trauma that so many have suffered…and yet, there’s no time to collect myself. Life has never felt more full. You, too?
This fall, even our beautiful New England maples never turned their usual red. What is going on?
Seems like a sign… so like every other animal right now, I know I’d better prepare for what’s to come.
Squirrels lay up a cache of acorns so they don’t starve. But when I’m so busy handling the day-to-day craziness, it’s easy to put off my own inner preparation, and just hope for the best.
But this year, I can tell already that I can’t afford my usual naive optimism. So I’m feathering my winter nest with warmth in every way possible.
But more than the usual self-care, it’s soul-care I know I need.
When I allow myself reverent care for my real needs I feel resilient and alive… and then almost magically, I’m most able to handle whatever comes my way.
Because I’ve never needed them more, I’ve come up with 3 essential — and amazingly simple — soul-caring shifts to help me thrive this winter.
Over the next few weeks I’ll be sharing these and more through email and as mini-reminder videos on FB. Here’s the first… and stay tuned for more to come.
1. Take a 15 second Beauty Break
When my day is extra full, it can feel like I can’t spare the time for even a shower, much less a hike up my favorite trail or a long hot bath. But I know I can spare 15 seconds!
So as often as I remember, I just stop and notice what’s around me. Simple!!
There may not be red on the hillsides this year, but the blaze of yellow out my window is the gift in this moment that can take me out of my too-long to-do list and help me gain perspective. It’s also a real kind of joy that seems to almost magically shift my day.
This winter I’ll be making it a point to really enjoy what’s there! What my senses can taste, touch, smell, feel, and smell turns out to be the very best tool to ease my perpetually overworked mind and bring joy to an otherwise exhausting day.
And here’s a little trick. I even put stickers up on my kitchen cabinets and bathroom mirror. They simply say, “STOP AND ENJOY.” It’s the conscious shift from struggle to joy that I know will make the real difference this winter. So I’d better build in the habit now.
Give this a try, right now. Look around. Spend 15 seconds — 3 slow breaths — really taking in whatever pleases you in this moment. Then take a minute to let us know how you feel afterward in the comments below. What 15 second slice of joy did you allow yourself to enjoy today — and how are you changed?
It’s an epidemic. The way women make do in the bedroom.
I know because I hear their stories every day.
I’m still in the afterglow
from my Awakening the Divine Feminine women’s retreat this past weekend.
Discovering just how much more pleasure there in is life than we make do with.
(We even went skinny dipping!)
But too many of the stories we shared had the same theme.
Despite all our sexual liberation,
and with advice about sex everywhere,
something strange is going on here…
And we don’t have anywhere to talk about it
if we dare to even admit it!
In last week’s blog
I ran through a slew of reasons why we settle for what’s not really working.
How we hope it will change someday.
Or sadly, why we just get used to doing without.
And reaching for pleasures that sabotage what we most need.
The story is age old. Your mother probably did it, too.
In fact, that’s how the world ran until not so long ago.
For millennia women were expected to do sex the way the guys did it.
And now with so much male-created porn on the internet, we’re even more convinced.
You see, before the 60s
it was a radical idea for women to expect pleasure in the bedroom.
So it’s little wonder most of us still don’t quite know how to make it happen.
And why we still make do with giving him what makes him happy,
instead of knowing how to get across to him what we want
… just hoping the next time will be different.
But women, here’s the truth…
For most feminine-essenced people, his way just does not work for us!
And here’s why…
The penis is directional.
It knows how to get to the goal
in the most efficient way for the biggest bang for the buck.
That’s how the male body works,
and masculine energy, too.
The world’s been built with it.
It’s why we can fly cross-country in 5 hours instead of riding horseback.
Thank you, masculine assembly-line efficiency…
(and the men and women who worked there!)
It’s also why my dad hated to stop the car on trips to let us pee.
He just wanted to get there by the fastest, most efficient route possible.
Then there’s my mom…
She’d have liked to stop at the roadside to eat our sandwiches,
maybe find a picnic table by a field or brook,
instead of passing our waxed paper bundles back to us from the sack by her feet.
That’s how the feminine works!
A man or woman’s feminine energy cares more about how delightful the travel is.
How comfortable the seats are.
If you have your favorite music playing.
Who you’re sitting beside.
The feminine is about pleasure.
The masculine gets stuff done.
When it comes to the bedroom,
the fast fuck rarely gives a feminine being the kind of ride she’d most enjoy.
it’s all the little things that gradually turn her on
and eventually turn her into bliss.
And that, My Dear, may not be involve getting to the usual goal of orgasm.
The one thing I find myself nearly always suggesting to clients I work with,
(whether single or coupled)
Isn’t it time to bring the feminine back into life and the bedroom?
If what you want is more pleasure,
then always making orgasm your goal may just be what’s ruining your chances.
Of course, the same goes for life!
Not unlike last week’s antidotes to remedy our habitual making-do,
consider shifting one thing this week,
in and out of the bedroom,
to focus on your real pleasure
instead giving in to that damned efficiency tyrant within.
What one thing will make a difference?
Maybe taking orgasm off the table just this once…
and exploring your or your lover’s body, strictly for the fun of it?
Or seeing just how much pleasure you can feel with the least stimulation?
Let you own inner masculine and feminine work together.
He makes the plan. She decides how she wants to feel.
The more determined you are to stare down
your well-ingrained, cultural preference for efficiency,
the more pleasure you’ll find yourself enjoying,
no matter where you’re playing!
That’s the question I find myself asking again and again of clients and friends…
and me, too, much more often than I’d like to admit.
Is “making do” your MO… especially in the bedroom?
We say you’re waiting for the right moment
…or the right words
…or the right mood
to somehow ask for what would really work…
what would really feel g o o d.
But that moment just doesn’t seem to come.
What’s up with this weird voicelessness we still tolerate
… especially in sex?!
This summer I’ve been fascinated by how my feminine-essenced clients and those who are more masculine struggle to communicate… or just don’t.
And I’m shocked by what I’m discovering…
On so many fronts women speak out for what’s right,
stand up for others,
risk conflict or worse to let our voice be heard.
But if you’re like millions of other sexually-confident women
it’s hardest to COMMUNICATE about what’s most intimate…
and especially what’s not working so well.
So women make do with a mediocre (or worse) sex life
or search from partner to partner,
hoping to find one that finally gets how to please us…
without us needing to say a word.
Here’s the really sad news..
Making do is why WAY TOO MANY WOMEN – by middle age –
give up on sex altogether.
It’s just not good enough to bother!
(Or we despair that there’s no one out there worth the effort.)
So we make do with substitute pleasures anywhere we can find them.
Let’s see… the refrigerator? Facebook? Pinot Grigio? Amazon?
And if you do have someone to share your bed,
Making do can feel like this crazy either / or conundrum …
Do I make do as a people-pleasing compliant, eventually dis-interested wifey
should I just give up and leave in frustration.
All because there just doesn’t seem to be a way to bridge
the arousal and communication gap.
WHAT TO DO?
First, take a breath…
I know, it’s a lot.
When I began writing this blog, it seemed simple enough.
Lay out the problem and offer a few suggestions I’ve seen work.
But it’s now 10 days later.
This is far more fascinating and complicated than I’d imagined.
So there will be a sequel… or two.
But for now, let’s start right where many of us are.
Last week my client Kristin put it this way…
“I don’t want to seem demanding
or worse, needy!!!
or emasculate him
or hurt his feelings by making him feel like he’s not doing it right.
We’ve been through this so many times!
I’m pissed off, hurt, disappointed…
And I feel like I’m going crazy,”
Of course she eventually looses it in frustration.
She can’t stand this man she hopes she still loves
and melts down into the raving bitch she hates in herself.
Then leaving sounds like a huge relief!
All because these two are at a loss for how to skillfully communicate about what works best for each of them.
Why is this SO HARD!?!
Here’s the first onion layer of why I (and maybe you, too) have been known to make do. Then I’ll share a few solutions I’ve discovered over the years.
When we love someone, we love to make them happy. It feels sweet!
But confrontation doesn’t.
Why rock the boat by being difficult?, we might think.
Estrogen makes feminine-essenced people naturally connection-oriented and conflict-averse.
Without it, humans wouldn’t have survived as a species!
So women learned to compromise our own desires and take care of everyone else’s needs.
But in the process we can lose track completely of our own.
So often I’ve heard the lament, “I don’t really even know what I want anymore.”
Then, like Kristin, we feel lost and confused.
Playing pleasing wifey clearly hasn’t brought the happiness it promised.
But the bitch isn’t that appealing, either!
So it’s time to step away and get some clarity.
Time for a little triage…
Time to make your own pleasure important again.
Are you ready for today’s challenge?
We’ll get to the bedroom by Thursday’s blog.
But for today, first things first!
How much pleasure can you allow yourself to receive from the smallest of the day’s delights?
Seems too simple, right?
But don’t be fooled.
This is real research.
And it can change your vision forever.
What’s there, just waiting for you to notice it…
waiting to bring you a moment or two of pleasure.
It could be something as simple as the blue sky,
or the clouds.
Or how good it feels to have your hands in warm sudsy water,
or the intricate scent tones of your morning coffee.
Can you allow yourself 10 seconds to really take in that joy?
What is here in your life already, just waiting to please you?
If you spend the next few days committed to coming back to your pleasure in a determined way, you will find it much easier (and more fun) to allow yourself permission to be more fully pleasured in the bedroom.
This is a skill, Dear Friends.
And likely one you weren’t taught in school.
You might even put up a few stickies on the kitchen cupboard doors
or the bathroom mirror to remind yourself.
Enjoy our little experiment… and share below how it’s going.
What are you noticing?
Ok… I’ll be back on Thursday
with a few juicy facts about arousal differences and why we (ok, I) have so easily fallen back into making do instead of making my own pleasure as valuable as my partner’s.
A deeper turn-on? Huh?
It’s about pleasure in the body, most definitely..
But it’s more…
More than the momentary high of a great orgasm,
…though there are little-known practices that create the magic.
More than someone else’s slow hands,
…though that’s quite a delight.
Even more than all the best techniques in the world.
A deeper turn-on comes from learning to access the source of your turn-on.
And that is YOU.
You won’t find it in the perfect body you wish you had,
or some fabulous setting or future time when you’ll finally be ready,
or even someone who knows how to take you there.
(OK, so that is lovely,..)
No, this deeper turn-on is available right here… and right now.
In fact, you already possess the tools to bring it on.
I’m talking about what comes from living fully connected to yourself…
Your inner quiet.
It’s knowing how to more fully receive what is already there.
No working! No trying!
No walking on your knees through the desert for a hundred years, to quote Mary Oliver.
A deeper turn-on is just about remembering what we’ve never been taught.
It’s about cultivating the Feminine. And indeed, it is Divine!
But we’re constantly putting out and producing and trying to cross everything off our list. That, My Dears, is living in masculine energy. It exhausts us because too much of it is just not healthy or natural to our feminine essence.
A deeper turn-on comes from accessing the vitality and sustenance of your larger body, the natural world.
Nature is a seductress. And a good one. She knows her power but has no need to force herself upon you. She makes you think this little affair is your idea, that you made the first move. You can’t remember when she first caught your eye. She was just somehow there. And all you knew was that being with her felt fabulous.
You lay on the grass, she held you. You wondered at the stars, she mesmerized you. You splashed in the waves, she frolicked with you. Her breezes softened your tension. Her icy gusts slapped you awake.
She wasn’t always gentle. Nature made you stand up and take notice. Pay attention. She could be a formidable adversary to challenge your mettle, to draw out from you your best. But all along, no matter what she dished out, her tender comfort was like a balm to you.
Often you were distracted, forgetting her altogether. You could hide out in your mind, but she was there, too, of course. Or hang out on your screens, but she would wait.
It was easy to think of her as “other.” And not all that important, really. Not like your plans or creations. You thought they were all yours. Only she knew better.
You could come back to her whenever you wanted. Climb her hills, dip into her waters, soak in her rays. She let you think it was your choice, the tip of your hat to her beauty. Thank you, Ma’am.
It was only when you began to take notice, to see her for who she really is, in her full majesty – to feel her subtle allure and stand in awe of her seemingly simple presence – that she began to more fully reveal her mysteries to you. Only as you took her in your arms and heart, confessing your love through devotion and reverence, did she bless you with her fuller flowering.
Then the panic set in. You might lose her altogether. Everywhere she’s being lost. Forgotten. Ignored. Abused.
Or you could lose your freedom. Be forced to concede your dependence. Yield to a closeness that could leave you naked and defenseless. Relinquish your hard won control. Surrender to an unnerving vulnerability that incited peoples before you to worship her. Where would your precious independence be then?
Ah, well…as with any love affair, there’s always the push and pull. When love is this deep, it’s unsettling. You succumb, only to retract again, afraid to lose yourself or be left bereft. Within her constant holding, it’s too easy to grow complacent. Easy to neglect her. You will abandon her again and again, lose touch with her rare beauty, so available is she to you.
Only when the void becomes too unbearable do you return, confessing in wonder that you could have forsaken such intimacy for the shiny trinkets that caught your eye.
So let your life be this dance with Nature. Be tempted to fall deeper into her love. Offer yourself up for a lifetime of entrancement. Why hold back? You know she wants you.
Give yourself to her magnetism. Let yourself be seduced by the delicate touch of her breath, drawn in by her bird song, entranced by her honeysuckle scent. Indulge yourself in her innumerable delights.
Receive what she offers. Why resist such bliss? You’re already lovers for life.
Let the seduction begin.
Monday holidays feel like gifts. Sometimes I’ve celebrated with friends or family, but last week I was obligation-free on Memorial Day, so I created a Day of Grace.
I still kept my first-thing-every-Monday appointment with Jane, my book editor/coach, but only because our regular time together is always more play than work. I’d have hated to miss it. And I’d scheduled one private, late morning counseling client because I simply adore her. There wasn’t anything else I’d rather be doing. Other than that, I used this “free day” for whatever showed up, whatever whim caught my fancy. Playing in the garden. An impromptu visit with a friend. Every moment designed for my absolute pleasure.
Turns out that my day was so spacious and restorative, I plan to do this again. I intend to make every Monday holiday a Day of Grace.
Grace because these days come as gifts from the calendar gods, without any planning to make room for them in my schedule.
Grace because I surrender to trusting my intuition to guide my choices.
Grace because I release planning and let timing flow as it will.
Grace because I grace myself with my moment-to-moment presence. No forcing. No over-trying. And definitely no rushing.
Ancient Taoist qi gong masters have observed for thousands of years that three behaviors are harmful to the heart. Impatience and apathy made sense to me. But the third was a surprise. Hastiness, they believed, blocks love, joy and compassion.
But sometimes I like the rush of rushing! When I run to the car, at risk of being barely on time for an appointment, I feel on top of my game. I’m proud of myself. I’ve banged out some of my list, been productive and efficient! And I’m off…
Or, just as often, I’m super stressed, panicked to be late again, as I rush out the door, desperately hoping that light at the corner won’t be red.
Did you know that rushing is now considered by many health experts to be the new smoking? It may be just as damaging. It elevates cortisol levels and stresses out our adrenals. Cortisol and adrenalin are at the ready for the rare moment when a tiger is ready to pounce. They’re not meant to be pumping into us all day long.
Rushing puts us in fight/flight/freeze response many times a day. But those stress chemicals released into our bodies actually reduce the effectiveness of every one of the body’s systems. In other words, constant stress is bad for your health. Bet you’re not surprised.
But perhaps most important, rushing is really a red flag for something more insidious and soul-damaging – it’s a sign of our disregard for ourselves, for our own deeper needs.
Sure, lives these days are more stressful than ever. Multiple demands push us on every front. But rushing to do it all is the most obvious sign that something other than our own well-being is in charge.
When I succumb to habitual “hastiness” – to being perpetually slightly breathless from using every moment so fully that I don’t leave enough spaciousness on either end of an activity – it’s a sign.
It shows that I’m getting my sense of worth from my productivity.
…from cramming too much into my day,
…from martyring myself by trying to do more than is physically possible,
…from making someone else’s needs – or my own expectations – more of a priority than what’s good for me.
If that weren’t enough, the din of my over-drive drowns out a natural capacity to attune to my own intuition, my always available and most effective guide to real success and pleasure.
It feels great to get things done, but when I’m speeding ahead, there’s no way I can feel those more subtle inner signals about what I know would serve me.
And funny enough, I’ve noticed that when I respect myself enough to create ease when I can, the world strangely cooperates!
Maybe best of all, when I slow down, I have access to the simple elegance of my own feminine essence. That’s one definition of grace… simple elegance.
That ancient Taoist wisdom seems dead on. When I’m in a rush, I’m just not tuned into others or myself. I’m not likely to hear what’s really going on in my heart.
But the habit hasn’t been easy to break. I try to leave the house an extra ten minutes early… well, sometimes. And allowing open space between appointments in my calendar is a great idea, in theory, when I can pull it off.
What’s helped most of all hasn’t been trying to break the habit of rushing. Attacking it like an enemy to be conquered or a problem to be fixed hasn’t worked at all. I’ve just ended up feeling like a total failure. Not someplace I like to live!
Instead I’ve begun to shift my attention to how good I feel when I DON’T rush. When I begin to revere my desire for calm and spaciousness more than my zippy need to get everything done, as fast as possible, life feels manageable and, well, almost easy! When I can remember that I’m in charge of time, it feels amazing to carry myself with the purposeful grace and dignity that’s appropriate as I move through my day. And it’s really my choice.
Maybe every day can actually be a Day of Grace. What a thought!
You may want to try giving a Day of Grace to someone you love – on their birthday or just when you want to dose them with a little extra affection. Try to make it a surprise… and see how soon they notice. Or let them know ahead of time and completely cater to their fancy, gracing them with your beautiful presence – and anything else you know they’ll adore. You will make their day magical. And you’ll feel as happy in the giving as they do receiving. You never know what your example may inspire!
Is all this talk of gracefulness making sense to you? How do you manage the societal insistence to rush? Does anything change for you when you imagine how great it feels to be moving in your life with ease? How does it feel to live your life honoring your own pacing and pleasure?
There’s a spot down below to leave your comments. Please do! I love to read them every time!