Monthly Archives: June 2015

2 Everything changes when you let go

Everything changes when you let go - creating a happier relationship - Dawn Serra

 

I used to be the queen of expectations – always dreaming and wishing and pushing for specific outcomes. I called it good planning or being prepared or keeping my eye on the prize, and while it’s great to have goals, it becomes unhealthy when you cling to the point of rigidity.

One day, I realized that part of my need to control things stemmed from my own insecurity. If things weren’t perfect, then I was a failure, right?

As I began working on believing that I was enough, I started letting go.

I began opening my clenched fists and inviting life to happen.

I learned the art of surrender (an important element of tantra) and something amazing happened.

I started having way more fun. Life took on a playful quality. Frustrations evaporated, disappointments became opportunities for something new, my relationships blossomed, and my resistance to reality began to fade.

Because clinging to expectations, demanding a certain outcome? It’s all about resisting reality, which is the root cause of all suffering.

What happens when you let go?

Here’s the secret no one talks about. When you let go and surrender to what is, when you live fully in the moment, you have an even greater influence over what comes next because you’re fully present and giving all of yourself to life.

Yes, letting go can be terrifying. Yes, surrendering expectations is scary.

Your partner is imperfect. Your body is unpredictable. Life is messy. And nothing can change those things.

When you push your spouse to be something other than what they are, when you put life on hold until your body is different, when you try to orchestrate sex because you want it to be just like what you see in the movies (all things I’ve seen in my coaching practice), you miss out on the good stuff.

You become blind to this moment. And this moment is where pleasure and joy and pain and beauty and love exist and thrive.

When you are so focused on what should come next, what’s supposed to be, you sacrifice experiencing the magnificence of what is actually happening right now.

What if you really want to have an orgasm when you’re having sex?

The fastest way to NOT have one is to get up in your head and over think it, push for it, tense up, and be so focused on getting it right (whatever that means) that you miss out on all that juicy, delicious, mind-blowing pleasure that’s happening now.

Because then you’re missing that tender caress, that soft intake of breath, the quivering gasp of need telling you just how much they want you.

Or maybe you’re so upset that the dishes didn’t get done that you fail to appreciate the fact that your partner did the laundry and vacuumed the house which saved you way more time. You both end up frustrated, feeling unappreciated, and closed down.

How many times have you missed an opportunity to giggle endlessly over an unexpected plot twist because you’ve detonated the anger bomb when things didn’t play out just so?

In “Girl Sex 101”, Allison Moon says, “If you’re not attached to outcomes, success can look like a myriad of things…”

Being goal-oriented in your relationship (and in bed) is like failing to turn the wheel as you approach a curve in the road.

Relationships are gloriously unpredictable things. Sex is like a jam session where you never know what you’re going to get until you show up.

Stop worrying about what everyone else is doing and just do you.

Who says kids have to be part of the plan? Who says your house has to be pristine whenever guests come over? Who says sex is only good if an orgasm happens?

Everything changes when you let go.

You find your power.

You discover your pleasure.

You invite joy and can actually marvel at the beauty of what you have when you have it.

Because there are no guarantees.

We aren’t promised tomorrow or next week or next month, no matter how much you want it.

So, let go. Breathe.

Stop for a moment and take stock of what is instead of worrying about what should be.

Let yourself make mistakes, and let your loved make mistakes, too. See them as opportunities rather than failures.

Get rid of “should” and “supposed to” immediately.

What are you clinging to?

What is burdening you down and keeping you from enjoying your relationship, your body, your intimacy?

What would it feel like to no longer have that shame or frustration in your life? How much more space and ease would you have if you didn’t have to spend any more time thinking, fussing, worrying, arguing, resisting it ever again?

Sometimes letting go means having to apologize. Sometimes surrendering to what is means asking for something that you’re afraid to ask for.

But you’re worth it. Your relationship is worth it. Your pleasure is worth it.

Where do you get stuck? What are you resisting? Comment below and let’s brainstorm ways to help you move past it or work through it.

[callout title=”Join the webinar” link=”https://www.dawnserra.com/reclaim-the-fun/” class=”hb-aligncenter”]Want to ask questions about relationships & intimacy? Join my free live Q&A webinar on July 16th (a replay is sent to folks who register) and do just that. It’s like free coaching. Don’t miss it.[/callout]

4 When you just don’t have time for sex

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You know that it’s the first thing to go when things get insane.

Between work, managing your home, maintaining a social life, getting food on the table, and running errands, sex just seems like a nice-to-have rather than a must-have when it comes to scheduling your life.

It’s a common theme that I see over and over again (the other common issue is little to no libido, which we’ll explore soon).

There just isn’t time.

But what happens when you don’t make sex a priority?

It becomes a “should”.

It becomes a burden. Something you feel guilty about, which causes yucky feelings, which leads to frustrating and resentment. Or, it leads to trying to squeeze it in and wishing you’d taken a nap instead.

Sure, you occasionally find time for a fun romp when you have that rare vacation or when one of you decides to play hookie for the day, but that’s just not enough.

I recently explored the reasons people cheat, and feeling unappreciated? Yeah, it’s pretty high up on that list.

Plus, the health benefits for sex are endless – lower blood pressure, reduced anxiety, reduced stress, and it helps with headaches. Not to mention what a great workout it is and the bonding it helps to create with you and your partner(s).

So what do you do when you just don’t have time for sex?

Watch to find out how you can change your mindset and then try this fun and simple technique that’s a favorite among folks I’ve worked with.

[video_embed url=”https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zzqLOCNMrHM” embed_style=”default” width=”600″]

 

Tweet: Finding time for intimacy is all about creativity & having realistic expectations. http://bit.ly/1BEVXPQ

We make time for the things that are important to us.

I can tell you that my favorite excuse for not exercising is that I just don’t have time. I’m too busy. I’ve got too much going on.

But I magically have time to watch an episode of Game of Thrones. Or to talk to my sister for an hour and a half. Or to take a special trip to that gourmet grocery store that’s a half hour out of the way.

And besides, I could fit a really sweaty, fun workout into 15 or 20 minutes, right?

It’s the same thing for sex.

There’s a saying a friend of mine has about sex: The more you have, the more you want.

It’s easy to forget how fun sex can be when it becomes a burden or an expectation.

But when sex is fun and playful, when you make time for it a few times per week, it actually can become something you not only look forward to, but crave.

And wouldn’t that feel incredible?

What sweet, sexy, or naughty activity could you squeeze in with 15 minutes? Comment below and let’s get a list going that inspires everyone!

[callout title=”Let’s chat” link=”https://www.dawnserra.com/lets-chat/” class=”hb-aligncenter”]If you’re struggling to prioritize sex, then let’s connect. I’m here to help. [/callout]

13 A love note from me to you

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Hi you,

This week, I wanted to sit down and write a little love note – from me to you.

Maybe it’s because we’re coming out of Mercury in retrograde or because everything seems to be moving so damn fast all the time, but I’m feeling tender this morning, a little raw, a little unsure, and in need of something gentle.

I thought you might need something similar.

Perhaps we can share a virtual cup of tea (or hot chocolate!) and chat.

Because I want to tell you something important.

You are enough.

You are exquisite and powerful.

You do so damn much – so much more than most people ever realize that you do.

You work so hard, you dream so big, you take care of so many people, and you’re always imagining what’s next. You’re always looking for ways to be better, stronger, smarter, more successful…for ways to be MORE.

And yes, you are capable of amazing things. You will go amazing places.

But don’t you know that you are already amazing?

Your spirit shines so brightly that I can see it from here. Your power is limitless.

For all the places you want to go and all the things you want to achieve, I invite you to pause for a moment.

Right now.

Breathe.

Soften.

Soften some more.

Open to the beauty that is you right now, exactly as you are. No pushing, no doing. Let’s just be. You and me. Right here. And allow ourselves to FEEL it all.

What are you running from? What are you scared of?

Failure? Being wrong? Being seen? Losing it all?

I have those feelings, too.

That maybe, just maybe, I dreamt too big, wished for too much, and it will come crashing down around me.

Can you feel your own vulnerability?

Can you feel those tender spots that you dare not poke or prod for fear you’ll crack open?

What if we loved those spots fiercely today?

What if we, together, let our fears move through us, shake us and scare us, until there was nothing left of them but a glorious emptiness waiting to be filled.

Filled with a knowing that you will be alright, no matter what happens, because you are strong and powerful and talented and unbelievably important to this world.

I don’t want to be driven by fear, I want to be catapulted by hope.

So let’s sigh into the places that we don’t love nearly enough.

Let’s caress the spots that we neglect.

Shall we sit for a spell, you and me, as we bask in the warmth that is our own glory?

No place to be. Nothing to do. (For just a few moments, at least.)

Except to fill ourselves with the knowledge that we deserve love.

We deserve to be seen.

We deserve to know our dreams and to see them come to life.

But more than anything, for each of us to know deeply and profoundly, that we are whole and complete and glorious right now.

As is. Just right. Perfectly imperfect.

No caveats. No asterisks. No footnotes.

And isn’t that a magnificent thought?

I think so, too.

Let’s sit with that just a little longer.

You and me and our enough-ness.

With love,

Dawn

[callout title=”Let’s chat” link=”https://www.dawnserra.com/lets-chat/” class=”hb-aligncenter”]I’m here to help you live your most beautiful, sensual, spectacular life. How can I help? [/callout]

5 What the pros know: the (not-so-secret) secret to great sex

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Recently, at the end of a long and powerful session with one of my clients, I made a little joke to her about all of my sex failures. She stopped and looked at me, and then said:

“I find that hard to believe. You’re so awesome at…everything.”

Um. That couldn’t be farther from the truth, and I said as much. In fact, my sex and relationship mistakes, mishaps, and epic failures would fill the entire Encyclopedia Britannica, and then some. They’re so ridiculous I’m writing a book about everything I’ve messed up.

She let that soak in, nodding as if to say, “Maybe there’s hope for me after all.”

That little exchange made me realize something – often my clients think I have it all figured out. That I’ve somehow stumbled upon (or been born with) the keys to the sex kingdom.

And therein lies the secret that all sex professionals know. It’s in the handbook, in fact.

The (not-so-secret) secret is that great sex doesn’t just magically happen – we all have to work at it.

Last year, at the Woodhull Sexual Freedom Summit, I attended a session on the power of provocative and offensive words. The session morphed into a very intimate sharing circle. Almost everyone in the room (a good 15 of us or so) worked in sex, sexuality, or a related field – we represented sex educators, social justice advocates, therapists, counselors, sex experts, podcasters, sex workers, and the like.

During that hour a powerful thing happened.

We all shared that we struggled with the things everyone encounters at some point – low desire, failing relationships, fear of being vulnerable, mediocre sex, using our voice in bed, or feeling scared when things got tough.

It was incredibly validating and empowering to know I wasn’t the only professional who had these same issues. Because feeling like you’re the only one can be terribly lonely.

Knowing that professionals don’t have it all figured out when it comes to sex levels the playing field a little bit (and if a professional claims they don’t struggle with these things, run the other way – immediately).

What gives sex experts a leg up is a well-stocked toolbox for overcoming common problems.

As the group talked, it became clear that while our problems are similar to those our clients struggle with, we had the luxury of having powerful tools and resources that helped us to work through those issues a little easier.

Tools like the confidence to know that our desires and fantasies are healthy and normal (which allows us to remove shame), communication techniques that create a bridge rather than a divide when we talk to our partners, scripts for initiating scary conversations, practice digging into things that are uncomfortable, a thorough understanding of our bodies, and the knowledge that great ANYTHING doesn’t just happen – it takes work.

No one is born being amazing at sex or relationships. No one.

The truth is relating to others in any way, be it familial, platonic, or intimate, is a learned skill developed over years and years of practice. If you had the opportunity to see open communication modeled in your home as a kid, then you may have naturally adopted those skills, but again – they aren’t inherent.

Unfortunately, we rarely have a chance to witness healthy, tough conversations play out, and they don’t teach us in school how to deal with things like waning desire or hating our bodies. That means, we often feel like we’re totally alone in our struggles.

But the great news is that because these are skills that are learnable, you can learn them, too.

Building up your toolbox can be empowering (and that’s a large part of what I do with my clients), but skills take practice.

Practice means letting go of perfection and making a lot of mistakes.

So, here are a few tips for working on those skills. (Saying the scary stuff will be a separate series, so stay tuned for that very critical tool.)

Tool #1: You are normal.

Your desire, or lack of it, are normal. Your fantasies, the way your body experiences pleasure (or doesn’t), the needs that you have? Normal, normal, and normal.

If you need a vibrator to get off, bring it into bed with your partner and make it happen. That is completely normal.

If you like imagining that you have a stable of attractive lovers eager to wait on you hand and foot, embrace that. It’s normal.

If you get turned on by the sound of people having sex or by the smell of latex or when someone touches your neck in a specific way, let those things be your truth. They’re all normal.

Sexual fantasies are not politically correct and they aren’t necessarily something you want to happen in real life.

They are your private, creative landscape and accepting your sexual desires means letting go of shame and owning that this is your story.

Professionals understand that they are completely normal. It’s incredibly freeing to release shame or guilt around what you want and need.

Tool #2: Be specific when you communicate.

When you and your partner aren’t super clear about what you want and what you mean, it can lead to confusion, hurt feelings, and feeling like your partner just doesn’t get you.

For some reason I couldn’t stop thinking of this scene from Rush Hour with Jackie Chan and Chris Tucker:

Do you understanding the words that are coming out of my mouth? Communication and a shared vocabulary is critical to a healthy sex life and a strong relationship.

Let’s say you tell your partner that you like being touched.

Well, what does that mean exactly? Where do you like being touched? What mood are you in when this is happening? With hard or soft pressure? With long or short strokes? Is it a sensual touch or a sexual touch you’re craving?

It’s also important to note that the way you like being touched changes constantly – after a long day, your needs may be totally different than first thing in the morning when you’re fresh out of the shower.

If you aren’t specific and open about what you mean, then you’re setting your partner up for failure. This is true for sex and life.

Tool #3: Get comfortable being uncomfortable.

Though this is true for relationships in general, when it comes to sex, sometimes things are just awkward.

Pros know that sex, and talking about sex, takes practice.

The first time you do anything, whether it’s playing the piano or swinging a flogger, it’s going to feel weird and cumbersome and unnatural. And because so many of us have a lot of shame and embarrassment around sex, when things don’t go as planned, we tend to throw in the towel after one or two failed attempts and never look back.

But what if you treated sex like one great big on-going experiment?

Each time you get naked, you’re gathering information that will get woven into your complex and beautiful sexual story. Experiments don’t see mistakes as failure, but instead as valuable data. Imagine saying – “Well, that didn’t work the way I thought it would. What happens if I try it another way?”

A lot of people in the kink community like the saying, “It’s only kinky the first time.” Anytime you do something new, it’s going to seem weird.

In fact, unless something goes really wrong, I suggest to people that they try new things 3-4 times in different settings at different times of day with different context, because sometimes it takes a few tries to work through your embarrassment before you really start to see the potential in something.

Sex is messy.

It’s an act between two (or more) gloriously imperfect people. It can get sweaty and sticky and awkward. Someone may fall off the bed or bang their head or not realize which hole they’re sticking something into.

Getting comfortable being uncomfortable means allowing imperfection and mistakes, and knowing that’s all part of the journey.

You may not know how to phrase a request or how to talk dirty or how to share a fantasy, and you may react poorly to a lover’s private desire, but if you are willing to learn and grow and try again, with a spirit of “let’s see what happens!”, amazing things will begin to unfold.

Tool #4: The more you know about your body, the better.

In a recent post on masturbation, we looked at all the reasons that self-pleasure is so important.

Which areas are sensitive and when (because it won’t be a constant)?

How long does it take for you to get from zero to fully aroused when you’re by yourself? When you employ your juiciest fantasy? When you’re with a lover?

Do you enjoy gently tugging on your pubic hair or do you know what movements give you muscle cramps or which types of toys feel amazing and which ones are just distracting?

On top of that, basic anatomy is something pros constantly study, and that information can be wildly empowering. A wonderful resource on the female body is “Women’s Anatomy of Arousal” by Sheri Winston. I also have a 6-week online course in the making, so stay tuned for that.

Whether you pull out a mirror and get to know yourself visually, or you take the time to understand your body and all that it’s capable of, you will be a better lover for it.

The secret to great sex is you.

Your body was built for pleasure. Your mind is boundless and creative. Your voice is strong and powerful.

Great sex isn’t a natural gift. It’s not something that only a select few have access to.

Sex professionals know that our problems are not unique, they aren’t insurmountable, and with a little patience and a spirit of adventure, great sex can happen. And great sex can be whatever it is you want it to be – passionate lovemaking, no penetration at all, kinky as all get out, or anything else that makes you feel satisfied and yummy.

It might be uncomfortable and frustrating and scary and awkward sometimes, but if you’re willing to work with that and allow it be what it is for a little while, ecstasy is on the other side.

What’s the thing you struggle with most? How can I support you? Comment below and tell me where you get stuck.

[callout title=”Let’s chat” link=”https://www.dawnserra.com/lets-chat/” class=”hb-aligncenter”]Ready to develop some of those tools? That’s what I’m here for. [/callout]

10 My husband is always trying to fix me

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I was at dinner with a friend a few weeks ago, and she was telling me how her relationship with her partner was going.

One of the things that she was happy to report was that her partner has been getting better at not immediately offering advice when she is talking about her day.

We laughed because it’s something both of us understood so clearly. I’ve had so many clients confide “my husband is always trying to fix me and all I want him to do is listen to me.”

And it’s not just husbands, but friends, too.

A few years ago, after telling a friend of mine about a particularly bad day, I got frustrated with him for trying to give me suggestions on ways to handle it. I remember so clearly his surprise when he said:

“Why are you telling me this if you don’t want me to fix it? What’s the point? I don’t get it.”

We had a good laugh over it, but he was genuinely baffled by the behavior. I wasn’t the only person fussing at him for this, either. His wife complained about the same thing, and he really didn’t understand why.

He was just trying to help, after all.

I don’t want to turn this into a battle of the sexes because I have seen people of all genders exhibit this behavior, but here’s the rub…

If someone is sharing something and they want to feel heard and understood, it can feel lonely and frustrating when instead they receive advice.

It feels like preaching. It feels like you’re being talked down to or like what you’re going through isn’t important. Because for the person receiving the advice it feels like “here’s how you fix this, can we not talk about this anymore?”

Of course, to the person offering the “solution”, they often feel like they are being super supportive and loving by trying to resolve what sounds like a pain point.

So, how do you overcome this miscommunication when you have two people who communicate so differently?

Empathy or advice?

My partner and I practice this very simple technique and it’s made a world of difference in how supported I feel.

If I start talking about something I’m struggling with or feeling bad about, my partner asks, “Do you want empathy or advice?”

(Actually, at this point, it’s been shortened to “empathy or advice?”)

When he asks me that, I think for a moment and then answer honestly.

Sometimes I’ll say, “Empathy, please!”

Other days I want both, and so I say “Both.”

And if I really do want his help, because he is very good at bringing new perspectives to my issues, I let him know, “I would really love to know your thoughts, so advice is welcome.”

Sex educator and relationship guru Kate McCombs recently said, “Often, the best way to help someone is not to make them feel “better,” but to help them feel “lighter.”

Of course, this technique requires your partner’s buy-in, but it’s a super simple way to make everyone feel less frustrated.

If you both start doing it, that’s even better. What if you always offer empathy and your partner or friend really does want advice? It goes both ways.

Here’s another way to overcome this common problem.

Tell them what you need before you begin speaking.

That can sound like, “I’d like to tell you about this weird thing that happened today, and I would really love it if you would listen and empathize. I don’t need advice, I just want to share. Is that cool?”

Not only does this help you learn how to assert your needs, but it also sets your partner up for success by letting them know ahead of time what would make you feel most loved.

No need for mind-reading.

Plus, by ending with a question, they can tell you whether that’s something they can really do for you right now. Maybe they’ve had a bad day, too, and they just don’t have it in them to be empathetic.

Wouldn’t you rather know that before you spend five minutes sharing about your day and then feel rejected when they offer nothing at all?

You state your need. You ask for their support. They get a chance to weigh in. Everyone now feels heard and valued.

What if they go into advice mode anyway? Gently remind them what you asked for at the beginning of the conversation (remember that you’re on the same team and assume they mean the best) and restate your ask.

The key to almost any communication technique is setting yourself and the person you’re speaking with up for success by being really clear from a place of kindness. Once you get a few easy scripts in your toolkit, doing these things becomes incredibly natural and removes a great deal of frustration for everyone involved.

What has worked for you in this situation? How will you implement “empathy or advice”?

[callout title=”Let’s chat” link=”https://www.dawnserra.com/lets-chat/” class=”hb-aligncenter”]Looking for other communication tools to strengthen your relationship? Let me know. I’m here to help. [/callout]