Monthly Archives: August 2015

8 How gratitude can heal your relationship

When you're irritated, frustrated, and fighting all of the time, it can be tough to see the good in your partner. That's why a gratitude practice can help heal your relationship - by encouraging you to focus on the things your partner does to support you and love you. It's easy. There's even a free worksheet to help you get started.

You know that inner dialog you have with yourself that never shuts up? The one that tells you all of the things that are wrong with you, all of the ways you aren’t good enough?

It’s the same voice that also likes to harp on all of the ways your partner is driving you to maximum frustration.

God, he makes me so mad. He never helps around the house. He spends hours watching sports when I’m trying to race around and manage the house and the kids and dinner. When was the last time he had 20 things on his To Do list? And then he paws at me when I’m exhausted like I owe him something. Sex is the last thing I want to do. He has no idea how much I have on my plate.

You know that dialog because it’s something we all do – about ourselves, about our parents, about our siblings and co-workers, and especially about our partners.

It’s the Never Do Anything Right voice.

I spent a significant amount of time listening to, and feeding, that voice in my last significant relationship.

We loved each other. We had a pretty good life.

But, I also spent so much of my time feeling unappreciated, over-worked, undesirable, and completely frustrated – largely because of the story I told myself about our day-to-day life.

It was a lonely place to live – inside of my head, telling myself how tired my partner made me all of the time.

John Gottman, one of the leading marriage researchers in the world, has said that healthy, happy relationships tend to have a 5-to-1 positive-to-negative ratio. You can fight, you can get angry, you can turn away from each other, as long as you move back towards positive interactions at some point and fill your tanks again with support.

This concept ties in with a phrase that I’ve been hearing a lot lately:

What you focus on grows.

In other words, where you direct your thoughts and energy is what you end up creating for yourself.

The same is true of the relationship you have with yourself and with others.

When you think an endless stream of negative, harsh thoughts about yourself, you end up feeling worthless, powerless, and hopeless.

And so you drink or eat or numb out on television or go shopping for stuff you don’t really need. You self-medicate in some way, often to the point of being compulsive about it.

Which then feeds your inner mean voice and the Never Do Anything Right squad comes out swinging even harder. Because you’re proving the voices right, right?

That same cycle happens inside of relationships.

If you spend hours banging your head against the desk, going over and over all of the things your partner doesn’t do right, creating a toxic spiral of irritation, then imagine how your body language, your tone of voice, the words you use, and the energy you’re directing at your partner will be loaded with negativity the moment you interact with them.

And sex? Don’t even think about it.

I was recently talking to a friend who was stuck in an irritation spiral over his partner. He was trotting out all of the things she’d been doing wrong and feeling like crap about their relationship. Should they even stay together? Was it worth it?

He could hear himself being mean to her and admitted as much to me, but couldn’t let go of all the stuff that wasn’t working.

So, I stopped him and asked, “When was the last time you expressed gratitude for all the things she does right, for all of the ways she supports you in the day-to-day, for all the ways you laugh together?”

He said other than a few thank you’s here and there, he hadn’t really done that recently. He was worried that if he focused on the good stuff that he was sweeping the bad stuff under the rug.

Gratitude isn’t about ignoring or repressing the truth. It’s simply about shifting your attention and focusing on what is working so that you can make more of that happen.

If there are major issues in your life, then addressing those openly and honestly is critical to long-term health and happiness. You deserve to be in a relationship where you both feel valued and seen.

It’s also incredibly important to make a list of your needs and take a close look at which needs are consistently being met and which ones aren’t, then decide if the ones that aren’t can get met if you articulate them and ask for them.

But how often have you found yourself thinking little annoyed thoughts about someone one day, and then the next day, and then the next, and suddenly you’ve been stewing on this tiny little thing for weeks?

Suddenly it feels so enormous you’re on the verge of throwing in the towel.

Having a gratitude practice is one of the fastest and easiest ways to break a cycle of negativity.

There are tons of ways to have a gratitude practice, so if you already have one you love, then find a way to work it into your calendar on a regular basis – and make sure it includes ways you’re grateful for yourself and for your loved ones.

When you begin focusing on things your partner does well, ways they make you laugh, words they’ve said that make you feel seen, then your entire experience of your relationship begins to shift.

Suddenly, minor annoyances aren’t as irritating. You find it easier to let go of that little squabble instead of stewing on it for days.

It’s your responsibility in any relationship to decide whether something is truly a problem that needs to be addressed or not, but it’s important to remember that you are imperfect. So is your partner.

By focusing on ways they add to your life, you’ll begin to feel less stressed, more supported, and you may even feel a lot sexier in the process.

It’s hard to feel sexy when you’re treating your partner like a child that needs to be reprimanded. I speak from experience.

It’s up to you to ask for what you need in your relationship and in the bedroom.

It’s also up to you to treat your partner in a way that facilitates the kind of energy you’d like in that relationship.

You cannot expect your partner to be kind, open, vulnerable, and giving if you’re closed down, mean, cruel, and nitpicking all the little ways they’re failing you. The same is true if you never openly share about yourself or your feelings.

How can you foster space for both of you to be open and safe?

A therapist that I know has a practice that she does with her partner every single night.

Once they’re in bed, ready to wind down for the night, they ask each other to share the best part of their day with the other. Sometimes, the best part of the day was each other. Other days it’s far from that, but by asking about each other’s experience and having that sharing moment, they find ways to be grateful.

One last thought on gratitude – it’s important to be grateful when your partner is vulnerable and shares something with you, even if you don’t like what’s being shared.

Whether it’s a no to having sex tonight or honest feedback about something you did that caused them pain, thanking your partner for taking that risk, and acknowledging that they’ve done something scary, is one of the fastest ways to build resilience and courage into your connection.

I made a little gratitude worksheet for you to help you get started. (<– Click that link to get it.) If you like it, be sure to sign-up for my newsletter because I like sending special little tidbits to my subscribers.

What is something your partner is really good at that you want to thank them for this week? Comment below and let’s start a gratitude chain.

[callout title=”Work with me” link=”http://www.dawnserra.com/work-with-me/” class=”hb-aligncenter”]If you’re ready to find ways to express yourself in your relationship, I’m here for you. [/callout]

16 When you’re overwhelmed with self-doubt

When you're overwhelmed with self-doubt, anxiety, fear, sadness, and darkness, it can feel hard to find your way back to strength and love. It's normal. You're OK. And here's a simple process for getting back to yourself.

I wrote another post that was scheduled for today on gratitude. It’s a good post. But it will need to wait for next week.

This morning, I woke up and knew this needed to be written. Why, you ask?

Because last night I could feel the darkness trying to suffocate me. My thoughts turned to hopelessness and worry, shame and discouragement, and most of all doubt.

Doubting my gifts, doubting my talent, doubting my dreams, doubting whether I deserved…well, anything.

It happens sometimes, doesn’t it? Those doubts creeping in – about whether you’re good enough, whether you’ll ever be ready to pursue your dreams, whether you’re lovable or desirable.

The doubt turns into anxiety, and then you’re off to the races. There’s no stopping it now. The inevitable anxiety spiral taking you down the rabbit hole.

I have an intimate relationship with my dark side, my shadow self. She is powerful, but she can be terribly cruel if I’m not careful.

What really gets me is that inside of all that pain is also the source of so much creativity and complex beauty. So I can’t (and don’t want to) completely wall myself off from these deeper, scarier experiences because they’re part of what makes the light so very bright when I step back into the sunshine.

No one can be happy all of the time. The happiness police who insist you need to keep your vibrations high, your spirits up, your joyful smile plastered on your face are lying.

Not only has science shown that making yourself be happy all of the time can be damaging, but when you deny yourself those tastes of darkness you forget just how brilliant the light can be.

The only reason I know I’m a warrior is because I’ve danced in the deepest, darkest shadows within myself and come out stronger and wiser than before.

A warrior is not made by standing in the light all of the time. Armor is forged in the flames of shadow and pain.

But if it’s not about being happy all of the time, then what it is all about?

It’s about living a life ripe with meaning and love. Not the kind of love we see on TV that is all empty, wordless desire and silly romantic tropes. No.

It’s the kind of love that requires vulnerability, courage, and a deep understanding of self. Love that allows you to be seen for your most profound truths and to see that same truth in others.

And meaning? Well, meaningfulness requires risk. It requires being seen. It requires failure and big dreams, which of course breed fear and doubt and more darkness.

Living a life of meaning often demands the courage to carve out your own path towards something only you can see when everyone around you trudges down the worn path of safety.

Living your way into greatness means falling down and finding the strength within yourself to get back up.

When you’re overwhelmed with self-doubt, it usually means you’re either following your dreams or you’re contemplating a big change – something scary – and so, your doubt and anxiety is attempting to silence your truth, to keep you safe. This is especially true if the thing you’re resisting means taking a leap of faith with an unknown ending.

Our inner thoughts like predictability. Our inner dialog enjoys the safety of ruts and repetition. It knows our weakest spots and pokes at them mercilessly.

It’s OK to roll around in the darkness from time to time. Sometimes you need to dig deep in order to find what’s really behind those fears.

But you are not a victim.

You are not weak. You are not at the mercy of circumstance.

You have a choice. You always have a choice. You may not feel that way, you may hate the choices in front of you, but the choice is always there.

The scariest choice to make is often the one we most want. The one that will lift us up higher, or set us free, or rip us wide open.

Living unleashed from expectation isn’t easy. But you do have the strength inside of you. You do deserve to be heard, feel seen, know the warmth of the sun on your face.

You just have to know how to move ahead even when you’re at your most vulnerable, most terrified, most pained.

How can you lift yourself out of the darkness when everything feels like it’s against you?

I learned this powerful process from some mindfulness experts. So, here is how I saved myself last night from all that suffering.

First, name your feelings. Give them space to exist. Give them a chance to take up a little room. Stop resisting them by simply naming them. Anxiety. Doubt. Fear. Shame. Guilt. Anger. Sorrow.

Whatever it is that’s screaming to come out, name it.

Awareness is a powerful tool of transformation. But awareness takes honesty of self, and that’s where so many of us stumble.

We don’t want to be sad. We don’t want to be an anxious mess.

And then suffering settles in, because suffering is nothing more than a resistance of what is.

So name what is. Let it be seen and it will stop screaming for attention.

Last night, I was letting sorrow, doubt, and anxiety fall from my lips. Welcoming them into the space. Inviting them to sit with me for a moment (not too long, though).

Once you’ve named your feelings, the next step is to breathe.

You’ve made it this far. You’ve survived this long. You have power and wisdom within you that’s deeper than you could possibly know.

So, breathe. Get present in the moment. Settle into your body.

Breathe and start to notice what is true about where you are in this moment (not the “truth” that your thoughts are screaming about). Speak in the present tense to yourself as you breathe and name everything you notice about the here and now.

“I’m lying in my bed. It is soft and warm. I hear sirens passing by outside. I am physically safe inside my home. My back is aching from all this stress. It is 9:41pm. I feel the fan above me. I am loved by my family. I am loved by my friends.”

Centering yourself in the present moment and consciously breathing helps to give you some perspective – you aren’t trapped in the past or living out a thousand worst-case-scenario futures that are twisting you into knots.

You are here. Now.

Third, begin to visualize something powerful that draws on your strength. I visualize myself standing in the darkness and strapping on battle-worn armor. It is thick and heavy, but it fits perfectly. A reminder that I have fought these battles before and won, so I can certainly do it again.

I imagine myself standing tall, brave, and ready to triumph. Whatever it is I need to do, even if it will hurt, even if it’s scary, I know I can do it. I will do it.

I picture what I want in the distance – maybe it’s success in my business, maybe it’s a new home in a new city, maybe it’s me loving myself – and I fill myself with the knowledge that I am the only person standing in my way of those things.

I picture my warrior self doing great things, overcoming doubts, moving in the direction of what I know I’m capable of – these aren’t wild dreams of fortunes, but dreams that I know are within my grasp if I just let it be true.

And then I close the visualization with a serene, soft scene. It’s a place where someone who has tremendous wisdom and trust in themselves would sit – a grassy mountain (like the Sound of Music’s opening scene) or a stone temple like something the Dalai Lama might frequent.

The final step is the most important. Once your mind has gotten present and you’ve created a powerful story of your inner strength, then it’s time to start inviting love, peace, and strength in for yourself, for your loved ones, and then for the world.

This is called a loving kindness meditation, and there are many versions of it.

Science has shown that loving-kindness meditation not only curbs self-criticism, but it strengths you physically, emotionally, and cognitively. By making yourself part of a larger whole, you start to gain new perspective that is tremendously calming and up-lifting.

Because it’s not about happiness. It’s about meaning.

And what is more meaningful than a life where you and everyone around you are being lifted up and healed?

Last night, I was swallowed whole by self-doubt, anxiety, and fear. I danced there for awhile, and then I found my strength and came out feeling more empowered and more ready to be the best version of myself that I could be.

I still feel tender, raw, uneasy, but grounded and ready to show up.

It is not easy. The good stuff never is.

But it is simple.

You are not a victim. You are powerful and beautiful and valued. All you have to do is see it, embrace it, and own it.

What does your strongest self look like? Are you a warrior? A survivor? A god or goddess? Share down below and let’s inspire each other in our moments of darkness.

[callout title=”Work with me” link=”http://www.dawnserra.com/work-with-me/” class=”hb-aligncenter”]If you’re ready to find ways to tap into your strength and to ask for what you want, I’m here for you. [/callout]

3 How much sex should you be having?

Blog pic (2)

Google boasts 343,000,000 responses to the question: “How much sex should you be having?”

The prefill options included how much sex is normal, how much sex is too much, how much sex should you be having, & how much sex is in Game of Thrones?

Personally, I love that last one. The answer is A LOT.

When it comes to sex, you’ll frequently hear experts say that everyone thinks everyone is having more sex than them.

With media messages, advertising, pop culture, and even “experts” claiming there’s a certain amount of sex we need to have, it’s no wonder we’re confused and feeling inadequate.

The truth is we are asking the wrong question.

More sex does not equal a happier relationship. But neither does less.

So what gives?

The bottom line is that it’s not a numbers game, and anyone who tells you otherwise is trying to sell you something.

It’s about quality. It’s about happiness.

It’s about pleasure and how much you’re enjoying the experience when you do have sex.

If you have sex five times per week, but you dread it or feel indifferent about it, you’re likely building resentment and driving a wedge between you and your partner(s).

If you have sex five times per year, and each time you do it feels amazing, you’ll probably find you’re having fun reconnecting with other and appreciating the experience.

While there have been a number of studies showing more sex is better, researchers are questioning those findings.

Instead, they’re finding that more sex doesn’t lead to more happiness, but rather more happiness leads to more sex.

When you and your partner(s) are feeling supported, heard, valued, and desired, you’re more likely to want and enjoy sex (though, as you know from previous posts, sex can mean a myriad of things).

Many of us know that our libidos take a nosedive when we feel stressed, pressured, exhausted, and/or frustrated.

That’s why when you have a partner who is always pressuring you for sex, it makes you shut down even more.

Emily Nagoski, author of “Come As You Are”, frequently recommends for couples to stop having sex while they’re working with her. By taking sex off the table, the individual who feels pressured to have more sex often experiences a surge in their libido as soon as the stress is lifted.

It’s an interesting experiment to try.

In my experience, when someone asks about how much sex you should be having in a relationship, it’s really stemming from a place of wanting to know if their needs are normal.

This is either because a partner is pressuring them for more sex and they don’t want to or because their partner isn’t interested in sex and they want to find ways to have more.

Mismatched libidos are normal, and it is possible to have a healthy, thriving relationship when you two have differing needs. From exploring non-monogamy to redefining sex to exploring new ways to incorporate pleasure, differing libidos and needs doesn’t have to spell disaster.

But, while we’re talking about feeling pressured for sex, we need to get serious for a moment.

You never, ever, ever owe someone sex. Ever.

Not your spouse. Not your partner. Not your boyfriend or girlfriend. Not someone who did something nice for you recently. You never owe someone sex.

While it’s OK for you to disagree about how much sex you’re having, and it’s also OK for one person in a relationship to want more sex than they’re having, it is never acceptable to pressure or punish someone into having sex.

If your partner punishes you in some way for not putting out (the silent treatment, by being moody, by otherwise manipulating your feelings when you say no), that is abuse.

There’s no other way to put it. It’s abuse, and in many cases, it’s rape.

You can choose to have sex when you’re not really feeling it – maybe because your partner is stressed and you want to help them relax – but you do not owe anyone sex. Ever.

It is not written into a partnership or a marriage that you have to put out.

If your partner wants sex and you say no, any additional coercion or manipulation is unacceptable. And you are perfectly in the right to call them out when they do that.

You are not responsible for someone else’s pleasure.

That said, if your partner wants sex and you’re not able or willing to meet that need, it’s also acceptable for them to talk to you about their needs and other ways to meet them.

That’s a longer discussion for another post, but while we’re talking about frequency of sex, you need to understand that consent is only having sex when you want to, of your own free will, and nothing less than that.

*steps off soapbox*

So, how often should you aim for when it comes to sex?

Sex has tremendous health benefits from improved immune health to lower blood pressure to increased libido and better cardiovascular health. But the benefits come with a caveat – these things are only true if you’re having sex because you want to.

I also recently talked about how our libidos and sexual needs ebb and flow over the course of our lives. The amount of sex that’s right for you will change depending on your health, your lifestyle, your mobility, your stress levels, and many other factors.

The good and the bad news is that the right answer is between you and your partner(s).

Are you happy with the sex you’re having now? If the answer is yes, there’s no need to change it unless you want to add more excitement or try something new.

If you aren’t happy, then talk about why.

Often the dissatisfaction you feel when it comes to sex is less about frequency and more about quality or depth of desire.

Instead of banging one out because of a sense of obligation, what are one or two small adjustments you could make so that you’re both experiencing more pleasure and connecting with each other?

If one of you is feeling pressured and the other of you is feeling unwanted, what are some sexual activities you could introduce that would be fun without contributing to the pressure? Things like sensual massage or making out or reading a sexy story to each other might be a terrific alternative.

I know what you’re thinking, too. All of this requires talking about sex in an open way, which for many of us is totally awkward or foreign.

When it comes to talking about sex, do it outside of the bedroom when you’re both feeling open and safe.

Ask things like, “How are you feeling about the sex we have?”, “What parts of our sex life do you enjoy? What could be better?”, “What would feel good for you?”

Remember to use “I” statements in your responses, and let things be weird. Let things feel uncomfortable.

Unless you’re having those conversations all the time, it’s going to feel strange and you’re going to fumble it.

Just remember that you’re on a team, you aren’t adversaries. Assume the best intentions, remember that you both want to feel loved and valued, and go from there.

Let’s change the question from how much sex you should have to how can I make the sex I do have more enjoyable?

Focus on being more happy, relaxed, and emotionally open in your relationship. When you’re feeling good, you’re more likely to feel that erotic energy flowing.

And one last note – sometimes you don’t really feel like having sex until the sex has started. If you know that about yourself, it’s OK to give it a go and then decide whether you want to continue or not. That’s called responsive desire, which I briefly touched on last week.

Finally, self-pleasure is sex, so if you’re single or your partner isn’t up for it, have sex with yourself. It’s not a lesser form of sex. It’s actually quite healthy and awesome.

How can you change the discussion in your relationship from frequency to enjoyability?

Comment below with your thoughts.

[callout title=”Work with me” link=”http://www.dawnserra.com/work-with-me/” class=”hb-aligncenter”]If you’re ready to discover and explore sex on your own terms, I’m here for you. [/callout]

 

8 Do you ever feel like sex is overrated?

Blog pic (1)

When I was a teenager, one of the hottest sex scenes I’d ever seen was in the film Desperados with Antonio Banderas and Salma Hayek. It spoke to every single fantasy I had about what sex was supposed to be – raw, sweaty, primal, wet, romantic, mind-blowing, perfect, effortless, hot, surrounded by candles, with flawless bodies, and ending in sweet laughter.

This was what real sex was supposed to be.

It’s what Cosmo was telling me. My mom’s romance novels. The other movies I’d seen. My friends.

Real sex wasn’t about conversations or awkwardness. It magically happened (specifically, if you had the “right” partner and a perfect body).

When I finally did have sex for the first time, the condom got stuck inside of me, and we spent 20 minutes trying to fish it out as he got soft and I wanted to die of embarrassment.

Sex, compared to the fantasy, was pretty disappointing. There was a feeling that sex is overrated.

Then, I had a few lovers who had some pretty amazing skills. Why amazing? Because I still hadn’t figured out how to ask for what I wanted, so we were both flying blind and lucky me, they happened to get it right a lot of the time.

As relationships came and went, I started noticing that sometimes sex was absolutely incredible. Other times sex was decent, enjoyable, awkward, and occasionally, down right blah or disappointing.

Where was the effortlessness? Where was the undying passion? Why was I having to try so much and why was my desire so hit or miss?

As I dug deeper, as I learned more about sex, bodies, biology, chemistry, and relationships, I had a realization.

We have been sold a lie, and we continue to buy it over and over and over again.

Which is why so many of us feel like something is missing.

We feel like we aren’t good enough. We worry that we should be doing something differently, or more frequently, or with more meaning. We hear about this incredible sex in magazines, movies, books, and from friends, but sometimes it seems like that kind of sex will never happen for us.

It’s a lie that sex needs to be mind-blowing, effortless, and soul-connecting every single time.

The truth is that sex is as complicated and messy as you are. And you are constantly changing – every single day, every single minute – your moods, your feelings, your cravings, your surroundings, and your perceptions are always changing.

Sex (or rather, your experience of it) is in constant flux, too.

You aren’t doing it wrong if you don’t have an orgasm.

Your body isn’t broken if you can’t stay hard or if you rarely get wet.

You don’t need to worry that you’re on the verge of a break-up if sex only happens every once in a while.

All of that is normal. And the more you get to know yourself, the easier it becomes to find things that work for you. But most of us operate off blind faith that sex is something we all innately know how to do well.

Too often we see sex as one huge experience that needs to be amazing from start to finish.

Think about how often you’ve thought that sex has “been ruined” by the need to pee or an erection that’s gone soft or by the baby screaming or when the dog jumped on the bed and knocked a lamp over?

How often have you treated a sexual encounter as an all-or-nothing transaction? If things get off to a bumpy or awkward start, do you usually throw in the towel or pause, pivot, and find a new way?

Most folks throw in the towel.

Because if it’s not effortless, magical, and perfect, then the mood has been ruined, right?

How much more fun would it be if instead of a single, all-or-nothing event, sex was a series of moments offering countless opportunities with ebbs, flows, ups, downs, highs, and lows?

Then, you could take a step back and say of all the moments that just happened in your sexual encounter, most of them were pretty good (you felt connected and present), a few were frustrating or disappointing, and a handful of moments were really awesome in some way – a new sensation, a giggle that felt really good to share, a few moments of intense pleasure, etc.

Keeping score isn’t the point, but the basic idea is that if you’re curious about discovering your pleasure, if you stay curious about each moment and its potential, and you know how to regroup or pivot when things take a turn you aren’t enjoying, you can still end up having an enjoyable, bonding experience where otherwise you may have given up and ended things feeling frustrated or disappointed.

Cory Silverberg recently proposed the idea of good enough sex, and it’s a brilliant concept that helps turn the idea that sex needs to be “perfect” all of the time on its head.

Good enough sex is fun, it feels good, it teaches you something, it brings you together in some way.

Life can’t be spectacular, amazing, joyous, and on high every single moment of the day. It has ups and downs. The downs teach us something, the ups allow us to enjoy what we’ve learned and to reconnect.

The more you’re open to learning from the tough stuff and letting it go, the happier and more joyous your life becomes, right?

Sex is the same way.

Sex is an experience. It’s a journey.

Let’s take the pressure off the need for sex to be amazing all of the time, and instead embrace each moment the best you can and see what happens.

But what can you do if sex keeps falling short of what you’d hoped it would be?

First, let go of your expectations of what sex is supposed to be and start learning what sex is – to you. In your body.

Get curious. Let things be great and also let things be failures.

Venture into the unknown. If you don’t know your body, and continue getting to know your body as it changes, then it’s going to be difficult to articulate and understand what feels good. Start there.

Second, find your voice. Ask for what you want. If you ask and you don’t like what you get, change your mind. Ask for something else.

Stay present. Give completely to your partner and receive completely when you’re being touched. Be patient with yourself and with your partner.

Pretend like you’re adventurers each and every time. Try new things – whether it’s a new stroke of your labia, a new toy, or hanging from the chandelier.

Third, give yourself permission to feel pleasure. Give yourself permission to deserve being touched and savored. Then, ask for it.

If your partner isn’t giving you what you want, take matters into your own hands (literally – touch yourself).

Finally, realize that sex, like life, has many different roles and stories throughout your life. There may be long periods of time when sex isn’t high on your priority list. There may be long periods of time when you can’t get enough.

If you’re routinely checking out, feeling resentment or pressured, or feeling like you aren’t good enough, then your partner is going to pick up on that and check out, too. It’s pretty difficult to make erotic energy nice and juicy if you’re both just going through the motions.

So instead, take the pressure off yourself to conform to a certain cultural standard and invite yourself (and your partner or partners) to prioritize pleasure.

Pleasure might be foot rubs or feeding each other bits of chocolate as you watch a movie.

Pleasure might be showering together or a bubble bath alone.

Pleasure might be making out and dry humping in the car or it might be getting a hotel and role playing that you’re strangers who met in the bar.

Pleasure might be taking tantra classes and learning how to breathe your way to an orgasm or taking a tango class and enjoying your bodies pressed together as you fumble the steps.

Let pleasure be your guide, rather than sex, and you’ll find that when sex does happen, you’re more connected and having more fun.

This isn’t about immediate gratification or a quick fix. This is about tuning into what you most want or need, and savoring that moment for what it is.

What does pleasure mean to you?

What kind of expectations around sex are you ready to let go of so that you can go on your own adventure of feeling yummy and good in your body?

[callout title=”Let’s work together” link=”http://www.dawnserra.com/work-with-me/” class=”hb-aligncenter”]If you’re ready to discover and explore sex on your own terms, I’m here for you. [/callout]

13 This is a story about healing

Blog pic

This is a story about healing.

Like many of you, I carry wounds and scars inside of me that can be scary and painful. It’s one of the main reasons I do this work. By healing you, by lifting you up, I do the same to myself.

Healing has become a major theme in my life over the past year and a half since my last rape.

And so this is the story of how I found myself naked in a stranger’s home for two hours of hands-on sexual healing.

About a year ago, a friend of mine declared that her life had just been changed following a session with a Sacred Intimate. Having never heard the term, I immediately wanted to know more. My friend informed me that Sacred Intimates (SI) are people who help you explore your sexuality and pleasure using things like breath work, movement, and hands-on exploration.

My friend slid the Sacred Intimate’s information across the table to me and said, “Dawn, you have to do this. Trust me.”

Excited and nervous, I read up on this particular SI, made an appointment to chat with her on the phone, and then immediately tucked it all neatly away in a little box in the corner of my mind.

As amazing as hours of embodied pleasure sounded, I just wasn’t ready.

Sometimes the most important parts of a journey are those when you know it’s not the time to move forward, but instead the time to experience where you are right now, without apology.

Because letting myself be naked that way – not just in body (which is a scary thing on its own if you know anything about my relationship with myself) – but naked in mind, heart, and soul? It felt so vulnerable. So…powerful and transformative.

The fear was deafening, and so I waited.

For 10 months, I would occasionally return to thoughts of this SI and the way my friend was so enthusiastic about the radical shifts she’d experienced. I knew that it would likely involve internal massage, and while I certainly had sexy fantasies about that when I pleasured myself, the reality of doing actual healing in this way felt terribly overwhelming.

And then, a few weeks ago, I had this deep knowing bubble up inside of me.

I was ready.

For what, I had absolutely no idea. But, I knew I really wanted to take this leap of faith and see what happened.

The SI and I reconnected over the phone. She re-explained how she does her work, talking at length about consent and boundaries, and then I explained that I wanted to work on letting go of some of my rape trauma and get help finding my voice and manifesting ways to connect with more people in my business.

A tremble of fear at having to actually confront myself and my boundaries in a really vulnerable and public way coursed through me.

We scheduled a two hour session for when I’d be traveling in her neck of the woods. She encouraged me to do deep self-care the night before our appointment and to take a really slow morning leading up to our time together.

Sunday night I settled in for a luxurious bubble bath with a glass of wine. I let my hands explore my skin, and I gave myself permission to feel hopeful for the work ahead. I wanted to get really clear on what inside of me needing healing and what kind of shifts I wanted to experience as a result of this session.

Emotions bubbled up, one right after the other. Fears, too. What if she wasn’t who she claimed to be? What if I didn’t like being there? What if… what if… what if…

The next morning, I found myself stumbling through a comedy of errors that left me frazzled, stressed, and anything but relaxed by the time I knocked on her door.

Honestly, everything in me wanted to run away. I couldn’t do this. I wasn’t ready. I…

And then, there she was, beckoning me into her home.

The room smelled of incense, Nag Champa to be exact. Everything was draped in flowing fabrics in deep purple and pink. The shades were drawn and every surface had burning tea lights. Even though it was 11am on a summer morning, I stepped into a dark, sensual womb that felt nurturing and safe.

We spent about 30 minutes talking about my fear, my expectations, my blocks and traumas, and the things I was ready to let go of: doubt, pain, the armor I held in certain parts of my body, the feeling that my gifts weren’t good enough to share with you (yes, you, dear reader).

We also talked about what I wanted to manifest and invite in – strength, prosperity, healing, inner wisdom, and a readiness to share my voice with the world.

She spoke about my chakras and energy work. I’ve done enough of that in the past that I knew right away my main blocks were in my 1st and 2nd chakras – rape will do that to you.

It’s hard to feel safe when your body doesn’t feel like it’s your own sometimes.

She also explained to me that women, especially, have this spectrum of touch where their vulvas are either touched in a clinical way by doctors or in a sexual way by lovers (who often expect something in return). As a Sacred Intimate, her job was to offer another type of touch that was sensual and pleasure-based, but had zero expectation behind it.

A place to be entirely and utterly me.

Her only goal for my session was to help me rediscover my yes.

What did I want to say yes to in each and every moment? What felt divine? What would feel even better? What if we stayed in that yummy place as long as possible instead of feeling like we had to move on because of some expected series of events?

She said that orgasm may or may not happen, but that was not the goal.

The goal was ultimate pleasure, ultimate receiving, the ultimate yes to myself.

Honestly, the thought of speaking up and asking for what I wanted over and over again was really scary. My voice and I have a troubled relationship, and though I have done a great deal of work in allowing my voice space to speak up, it is still relatively uncomfortable for me most of the time.

And here I was, with a stranger, about to get naked, and the only goal was for me to use my voice and ask for what I wanted over and over again.

She invited me to stand and taught me a tantra breath that would help keep me in the present moment as well has help move sensation and pleasure throughout my body. The breath felt awkward at first, but soon became an anchor that allowed me to drift beautiful places.

I slowly removed my clothes, trying to ignore the chatter in my head that was nervously chiding me over being naked with this woman I’d never met before.

Per her instructions, I laid face down on the massage table, and waited.

She stepped into the space and laid her hand on my back. In that moment, I knew I was safe and I knew this was going to be some deep work. She told me to invite all of my emotions up, regardless of what they were.

And then we started.

Her hands traveled down my back and over my ass and legs. She massaged my feet and calves, slowly working up to my thighs. She reminded me to speak up when something felt really yummy, and also to speak up if anything was just tolerable or OK. We were going for ultimate bliss.

Despite all of the work I’ve done, this was my first time really deciding that the only thing that mattered was my pleasure – no apology, no holding back.

Because we’d decided that I was holding a pretty deep block in my 1st chakra, also known as my root chakra, she began deeply massaging my butt cheeks, inviting me to relax and receive as I did my breath work.

Then, she was massaging my anus. I felt myself tense up and suddenly, I was flooded with a crystal clear vision of why I’d been holding on to so much pain in that area.

My rapist had had anal sex with me that night. It had been consensual, but he did it too fast and without any warm up and it had hurt. A lot. The trauma occurred shortly after. I’d felt so ashamed and alone, like my pleasure and my body had no place in this world. Like my voice didn’t matter.

And now here we were, my SI and I, allowing this pleasure spot to take center stage.

I felt myself speaking up, advocating for myself.

I told her that this felt important. I wanted us to stay here a bit longer, and she thanked me for asking for what I wanted.

Pleasure coursed through my body as I invited myself to create a new story – a story where I was strong and in charge of my body, a story where my pleasure and my voice were important and valued and heard.

Waves rocked through me from head to toe as I felt this door I’d been desperately holding shut out of fear burst open, and in its place was a sense of ease spreading through every inch of my body.

She never rushed me. She held space for me and my experience regardless of what that looked like for me.

As my root chakra opened, I felt myself shifting towards my 2nd chakra. My legs parted, my hips rolled, and she asked if my yoni (vulva) was ready for some attention.

At my yes, she invited me to turn over.

After a delicious breast massage, she moved to my belly and then between my legs.

It was a fascinating experience to know I was about to journey into my most sacred place, to embrace everything pleasurable and sexual about myself, without this being a sexually charged moment.

We’d created a container of absolute trust, warmth, and nurturing. I felt safe in a way I still don’t have words for.

As we started exploring what my pleasure looked like in that space, at that time, I found myself opening to my yes. I started asking for different strokes, different pressure, for her to linger in places that felt especially powerful and important.

As her fingers slipped inside of me, I felt this beautiful opening in my spirit. It was as if I was inviting her in because I knew this was work that needed to be done. For both of us.

We rode the wave of my yeses, over and over again, until I found my back arched off the table as a glorious orgasm poured from me.

Later, as I dressed and emerged from the room, she gasped and said, “You look like a glowing goddess.”

I was high as a kite on the energy we’d brought into that room. As I lay on the table, I’d had these visions of letting go of some of the pain and sorrow I carried inside of me, I felt myself releasing my grasp on some of my fear and doubt, and at the same time I felt myself fill with this deep knowing that I was doing the work I was meant to do with this lifetime.

I knew in my heart of hearts that I was powerful, creative, talented, and ready to heal the people who were ready to work with me.

We chatted softly for another half hour or so as I drifted back to myself and the present moment.

She talked about how her work with women was always a beautiful experience of profound healing and it is the reason she does what she does with her life. I told her that I admired her for her courage because doing this kind of work can be isolating and lonely. It is sex work, after all.

We hugged for a long time and I stepped back into the sunshine a new woman.

What amazed me about my time with that Sacred Intimate was that despite the deeply sexual nature of what we did together, it wasn’t actually a sexual experience. Not in the ways I’ve experienced with lovers, at least.

My arousal was not about her. It was about me.

My pleasure was not about her. It was about me.

I wasn’t worried about pleasing or performing or giving or being a certain way.

Instead, I was invited (and given permission) to fully embody my story, my journey, and myself.

I tapped into my body wisdom. I explored my traumas. I asked for what I wanted and received it in the most selfless way possible.

So, why am I sharing this with you?

As a sex coach, it’s important to me that I’m constantly transparent and vulnerable about my own struggles and adventures.

After all, sex isn’t a static thing. As our bodies change, our lives ebb and flow, and our experiences pile up, the way we experience pleasure and sex continues to morph and bend in new, often surprising ways.

What so many people don’t realize is that our sexual energy is directly tied to our power. It’s where we find our voice, our desires, our needs, our creativity, and it’s where we can truly settle into ourselves and find our inner wisdom. The way we explore our sexuality is different for each of us, but to ignore that part of ourselves is to shut out a vital piece of our life story.

The next time I’m traveling in her neck of the woods, I plan on having another session with her. She told me that each session results in a very unique journey where new depths are explored and new stories unfold.

Whether I’m ready for that work remains to be seen, but as I write this now, I am a woman who has undergone a radical transformation at the hands of a gifted and skilled witness.

And though my work is not hands-on, I know in my heart of hearts that my healing will help facilitate your healing. That my journey is what leads me to helping you on yours.

This is a story about healing. My healing and yours.

[callout title=”Let’s chat” link=”http://www.dawnserra.com/lets-chat/” class=”hb-aligncenter”]If you’re ready to stop ignoring the places where you’re stuck and find new ways to tap into your sexual potential, I’m here for you. [/callout]

*If you’re interested in learning more about Sacred Intimates, please don’t hesitate to contact me. Not all Sacred Intimates are qualified for the kind of work I just described, so referrals are important.