Category Archives for "Advice"

How do I bring a toy into the bedroom?

Need a vibrator in order to orgasm? Want to try a cock ring to enhance performance? Curious about butt plugs and anal? Great! That makes you normal. But how do you ask to bring a toy into the bedroom so that it's not awkward or weird? Sex coach Dawn Serra shares the secret.

When I was in my early 20's, I had a small collection of vibrators that I carefully hid in my dresser. Back then, the toys were all jelly and delightfully toxic, but I didn't know the materials were bad for me. I just knew that if I wanted an orgasm, that was the fastest way to make it happen.

Using my hands to touch myself still felt foreign, so I relied on my vibrators to get me off.

It never occurred to me to bring the toys into sex with my partner at the time. All of my friends (and Cosmo) made it pretty clear that if you were in a relationship, then penetrative sex (or in our case, since it was a lesbian relationship, fingers and dildos) was the pinnacle experience.

Masturbation was only for when my partner wasn't around or if I wasn't satisfied. Vibrators were a joke for tired, married moms (Parenthood) or women who couldn't find great sex anywhere else (Charlotte from Sex and the City).

Sex with my partner and sex with my vibrators served two distinct functions.

Interestingly, I had a sex toy business while I was in that relationship. We spent hours each week repackaging vibrators and filling orders.

I counseled thousands of women on how to introduce a toy to their bedroom, helping them to find ways to talk to their husbands and partners so that it wouldn't be threatening, and yet...I never once considered bringing a vibrator into sex with my own partner.

Toys now play a major roll in my sexual encounters. My current partner loves incorporating them into our time together, as well as times when we're apart.

Part of it had to do with finding a partner who was as committed to my pleasure as I was, and part of it had to do with me realizing that I am the champion of my experiences. If there's something I can do to make sex more pleasurable, more interesting, or more adventurous, it's up to me to advocate for myself.

So many people that I talk to worry that there's something wrong with them or their lover if they need a toy or aid to orgasm.

Only 25% of people with a vulva consistently orgasm from penis-in-vagina sex.

Even more interesting, lesbians regularly experience more orgasms than heterosexual women - 74.4% compared to 61.6% of the time.

Why? Because most vulva owners need clitoral stimulation in order to get off. And one of the easiest ways to achieve that is with a vibrator.

But orgasm shouldn't be the goal of sex. Pleasure should be.

If you are going for maximum pleasure, what would that look like? If you unapologetically declared, "This is what my ecstasy looks like", what would you ask for or try?

For many people, pleasure comes in the form of toys. Whether it's a vibrator for your clitoris, a cock ring for your penis, a butt plug for some delicious ass play, or a strap-on for pegging or even double penetration, all of it is normal and healthy.

Because your pleasure? It really matters.

But, how do you ask a partner if you can bring a toy into the bedroom?

First, realize that there's nothing wrong with you or your sweetheart if you want or need something else during sex. Our bodies are deliciously diverse, and they're changing all the time. Toys help bridge the gap between what you want and what your bodies might be able to do.

You are normal.

Once you come to terms with what you want and need (because it has to start with you), often then you worry about offending or discouraging your partner by asking for something different.

Any partner worth their salt will want you to have a great time during sex. Of course, because they want to please you, they may also feel insecure or scared that they aren't satisfying you. That's where the defensiveness can come in.

When you ask to incorporate a new toy or technique, remember to make it about you and not your partner.

It all comes back to remembering that you deserve pleasure AND that you're a team. You aren't responsible for your partner's feelings, but approaching the conversation as a fun adventure is empathetic and kind.

As equal partners who are both eager to have a great time in bed, it's easier to make it clear what you want and how it will set both of you up for success. Be specific. Be clear. And make the ask.

Here are a few suggestions for starting the conversation:

"Honey, I just bought a new vibrator. I'd love to try using it together the next time you and I are having sex. Maybe we can take turns holding it and see what kind of trouble we can get into? The thought of you inside of me while that vibe is on my clit really turns me on."

"I read about how cock rings can help me stay harder longer, and I've experimented on my own. I'd love to try it with you because I think it would be a fun experiment. How would you feel about trying that with me?"

"I've been curious about trying some anal, so I got a beginner's butt plug. I'm dying to know what it feels like to wear the plug while you fuck me. On our next date night, are you up for giving that a try?"

Of course, the way you say something matters a lot.

If you make it playful and flirty, then it helps take some of the pressure off of the conversation.

It's not about your partner being a failure, it's about you wanting to explore your pleasure.

It's OK for you to feel awkward or shy when you have the discussion, too.

If you and your sweetheart don't have open conversations around sex, or if it's been a long time since you tried something new, it's going to take a leap of faith to be vulnerable and ask for what you want. Just remember you're worth it.

Another way to make it easier is to eroticize the toy and the way you bring it into your time together.

If you pull your vibe out and just say, "Here," your partner might feel like they're at a loss.

But if you show them how you use it on yourself, if you buzz it along their body, if you slowly lube up the butt plug with a playful wink, it will feel more like an invitation rather than a demand.

Toys, aids, props, and costumes can be an incredible addition to your sexual repertoire.

Invite yourself to adopt a curious, open approach to incorporating them into the bedroom.

Because toys will die in the middle of sex and cock rings may get stuck in public hair and a butt plug might shoot out when you're riding your partner.

As long as you're in the moment and embracing what happens rather than chasing the expectation of an ideal, then you'll find you have a lot more fun and connect with each other at a much deeper level than ever before.

One last thought - if you bring up toys and your partner reacts poorly, it's OK to give them space and then have a conversation about their reaction. If your partner shames you in any way, you are within your right to tell them that's unacceptable.

Your pleasure is your responsibility, so advocate for your needs and know that you're completely normal if you need toys to experience your best sex.

Work with me

Are you ready to explore your desire and unleash your sexual self? I'm here to help.

From one-on-one coaching to my bi-weekly Sex is a Social Skill group calls and my DIY workbooks, there are a number of ways we can work together to support what's next for you.

Eight books on sex and intimacy you need to read.

If you're looking for advice on sex, intimacy, relationships, and communication, it can be hard to find books that are actually useful and transformative. Check out these eight must-read books from sex coach Dawn Serra. Your sex life and relationships will never be the same.

The world is overflowing with an abundance of amazing books, more than you could ever read in a lifetime. Fiction, poetry, biographies, even young adult stories, it’s an endless sea of inspiration and imagination.

But when it comes to books on sex, intimacy, dating, and relationships, the literary landscape is riddled with bad advice, antiquated ideas, and a shocking amount of bullshit sold as the law of the land.

(The Rules, I’m looking at you.)

Mainstream media advice about our bodies, our gender, the way we communicate, and sex is misleading at best and downright traumatizing at worst. That is to say, almost everything you see in magazines, on the news, and coming out of Hollywood is based on a set of rules and beliefs that are designed to make us feel bad and buy more stuff.

So, how are you supposed to separate the good from the bad from the downright absurd?

Allow me, dear reader, to lend a hand.

Behold. The eight books on sex & relationships that I most frequently recommend to my clients (and why you should read them).

Come As You Are by Emily Nagoski, a book on sexual arousal and desire in women

“Come As You Are” by Emily Nagoski

This is the number one book that I recommend to my sex coaching clients. If you’re struggling with low libido or getting aroused, especially if you are a woman, this book needs to be at the top of your To Read list.

Emily Nagoski uses numerous studies and scientific data to build a compelling story for why all of the things we’ve been taught about women’s arousal are wrong, and instead, how arousal really works for most of us.

Using approachable stories and fun anecdotes, you’ll walk away from this book feeling empowered, enlightened, and much more in control of your sexual pleasure and desire.


Ecstasy is Necessary by Barbara Carrellas is all about finding pleasure and ecstasy in ways you never before imagined

“Ecstasy is Necessary” by Barbara Carrellas

Barbara Carrellas is someone that I admire deeply. Her books are inclusive and powerful in ways that most sex books are not. “Ecstasy is Necessary” helps you to map out and discover your sexual self. Not the self that has been beaten into you by mainstream media or your family or your community – your true self.

What is ecstasy to you? What are the possibilities for pleasure? What are the endless ways you can tap into your sensual potential and unleash it in your life in practical and feel-good ways?

If you love this book, you’ll also want to check out Barbara’s “Urban Tantra” which is another book I recommend to most clients.


Mating in Captivity by Esther Perel is a book about infidelity, erotic intelligence, and why people cheat.

“Mating in Captivity” by Esther Perel

The prevailing wisdom that we see so often is this quest for intimacy in our relationships. But, what if intimacy is the very thing that kills our erotic energy, and our sex lives?

Esther Perel, known for her amazing TED talks on infidelity, posits that in order to maintain erotic energy, to keep that heat alive, we need to strike a careful balance between intimacy and eroticism. If you’ve ever wondered why people cheat and what you can do to be more aware in your own relationships to help prevent infidelity, this book is an important (and very easy) read.

It’s one of the more common reasons people seek sex coaching, and it’s one of the most common books I recommend to clients seeking change.


Women's Anatomy of Arousal by Sheri Winston is a very complex and rich look at women's anatomy, including the erectile tissue, clitoris, and how to help with arousal and desire.

“Women’s Anatomy of Arousal” by Sheri Winston

Did you know that many doctors, even gynecologists, don’t know the basics when it comes to arousal and genitals in folks with a vulva? It’s true! Sadly, many doctors only receive elementary information in med school about sex (most say it was less than 8 hours in their 8 years of training).

Sex education isn’t much better. We’re lucky if we ever even hear the world clitoris mentioned. Pleasure-based sex education is something we can hope for the future, but what can we do now?

Read Sheri Winston’s book. With beautiful hand-drawn images of all those delicious nerve endings and vast networks of erectile tissue, you’ll learn how the clitoris extends deep into the body, how important your pelvic floor muscles are, and what an important role your thoughts play in how your body reacts.

This book is the most comprehensive book on the anatomy of vulvas that I’ve ever seen. The language is heterocentric, so for any queer or trans folks, just keep that in mind as you go through the tips for lovers. It also has a lot of woo around energy and chakras.

Don’t let that stop you from buying this book, though! You’ll have a new appreciation for just how incredible our bodies are after you see what we’re made of.


Opening Up by Tristan Taormino is a very approachable and non-threatening look at all the different ways people can explore non-monogamy and opening up a relationship

“Opening Up” by Tristan Taormino

Tristan Taormino is a powerhouse in the sex education world. From her wildly popular podcast, Sex Out Loud, to her many educational DVDs, Tristan is a legend when it comes to sex.

“Opening Up” is the most approachable, non-threatening, easy read on non-monogamy that I’ve found. It’s full of stories and accounts from real people talking about the endless ways folks are redefining what it means to be in relationships.

Unlike many books about non-monogamy and polyamory, “Opening Up” does not pass judgment on folks who choose monogamy, which is part of what makes it so approachable for folks who are simply curious. Whether you’ve thought about kissing someone else or having a play partner on the side or even having multiple live-in spouses, this book walks you through the beauty of creating a relationship framework (or non-framework) that works for you.


Rising Strong by Brene Brown is a powerful book on moving through vulnerability and tough situations, like the ones you're likely to encounter in a relationship.

“Rising Strong” by Brené Brown

This book is hot off the presses and I’ve already written about its impact on me. Brené’s work on shame and vulnerability is incredibly relevant when it comes to sex and relationships.

In her latest book, “Rising Strong”, she outlines how to deal with failure in a way that allows for maximum emotional growth and healing. And we all fail in life – from trying something new in the bedroom to saying something we regret to a loved one. This book will arm you with powerful tools on moving through the yucky stuff without getting stuck.

If you take nothing else away from this book, learning how to say “the story I’m telling myself is…” will revolutionize the way you argue and have tough conversations. Get this book. Read it. Share it. And reap the benefits of new awareness in how you approach shame.


Rewriting the Rules by Meg Barker is a book that's likely to challenge your assumptions and stories about gender, relationships, pleasure, and sex.

“Rewriting the Rules” by Meg Barker

This book is important, but it is also pretty uncomfortable for folks who aren’t quite ready to step outside the lines of how society frames sexuality, gender, relationships, break-ups, sex, and self-image.

Meg Barker takes all of the stories and assumptions we have about relationships & sex, and breaks them down piece by piece. By questioning the rules, she invites new dialog that does not rewrite the rules, but instead, invites us all to let the rules go and live in a place of constant curiosity and flow.

When you’re no longer bound by “should” and “supposed to”, you can begin to create a relationship with yourself and with others that is more authentic and meaningful than ever before. Do expect to get uncomfortable.


Girl Sex 101 by Allison Moon is a fun, approachable look at sex with an inclusive approach that talks about everything from bodies to expanding what sex means for more pleasure.

“Girl Sex 101” by Allison Moon

Yes, this book is about queer sex. But, it is also full of body-positive cartoons, endless sex positive tips on how to actually have sex, and advice on everything from oral to strap-on sex and more.

Even if you think you’re beyond a sex 101 book, you’ll find yourself learning new and better ways to think about sex, your body, and how you can maximize pleasure with your partner. Allison Moon creates a fun, playful framework that will have you laughing out loud and nodding in agreement (the section on what makes someone creepy is especially fantastic).

Despite being a huge book, you’ll zoom through it and find lots of shareable quotes, pictures, and tidbits that you’ll want to try on for yourself.


BONUS BOOKS: If you have kids in your life, these two books by Cory Silverberg are LIFE-CHANGING.

What Makes a Baby by Cory Silverberg is an inclusive, beautiful book for young children that answers where do babies come from?

“What Makes a Baby” by Cory Silverberg

This book is designed for kids from 4-7 years old, though adults will get a lot out of it, too. Cory Silverberg wrote it for all kids in all sorts of families born in all sorts of ways to parents with all sorts of bodies and genders.

Instead of dreading the “where do babies come from” question, this book will give the young people in your life a beautifully inclusive answer that lays the foundation for a lifetime of sex positivity and self-awareness.

I buy this book for every single person I know who is going to become a parent.


Sex is a Funny Word by Cory Silverberg is the single best book for kids about sex, gender, and boundaries on the market.

“Sex is a Funny Word” by Cory Silverberg

Cory’s newest book, published in the summer of 2015, brought tears to my eyes. Intended for pre-teens, Sex is a Funny Word walks through anatomy, language, setting boundaries, consent, relationships, and the feelings associated with it all.

Each section ends with a question that invites the adult reading the book to engage with the young reader and the questions are sure to create an open conversation the likes of which I’ve never seen before.

Wildly inclusive, non-judgmental, and accessible to kids of all ages, if you have a youngster in your life, you need to get this book.

Please note, the links to Amazon are affiliate links for me, so if you end up buying any of the books, I’ll get a few pennies from Amazon. 


This list is not exhaustive and there are so many other books that I adore that I would have loved to include here, so expect additional reading lists down the road.

If you’re struggling with a specific issue or if you’d like to learn about something (like kink) that isn’t covered here, please comment below and I’ll provide additional resources and recommendations.

As always, I’m available for one-on-one coaching or you can join my bi-weekly Sex is a Social Skill Group Calls. Check out ways we can work together if you’d like additional inspiration and support.

7 When shame swallows you whole

Brene Brown calls shame the master emotion. Knowing how shame works won't save you from the crushing darkness. How can you break free once you're trapped?

*Trigger warning: Shame. In Brené Brown’s book, “Rising Strong“, she talks about how we live in a culture that tends to hide the ugly middle parts of our stories. Everyone likes a hero, but we’ve become a culture that doesn’t really honor the pain and mistakes and the struggles that happen when someone is in the middle of their story. For me, a big part of being a sex coach is modeling vulnerability and sharing my journey as a way to demonstrate that all of us are always in process and learning.

I had a few trusted colleagues and friends read this post, and while their feedback was overwhelmingly beautiful, a few also found their own shame triggered by reading about my shame. I invite you to take care of yourself as you read this and process. Be gentle. Allow space for your feelings. And reach out if you’d like to share anything.


Want to know something bizarre about me?

Vulnerability is a space that I’ve come to crave.

I know this makes me an outlier.

Most people cringe at the thought of being vulnerable, at opening themselves up to hurt, ridicule, failure, and pain.

It’s not that I’m emotionally masochistic (maybe I am a little bit), but that every single great thing that’s ever happened to me occurred after I allowed myself to be vulnerable and then found the courage to do the thing anyway.

Being vulnerable has allowed me to experience the most profound depths of intimacy, love, connection, gratitude, and transformation.

Studying Brené Brown’s work on vulnerability and wholehearted living, along with other amazing thought leaders like Tara Brach and Seth Godin, has not only inspired and influenced the work I do with my clients, but it also afforded me a sense of security against experiencing my own shame.

After all, if I understood shame, if I knew how it looked and how it felt, if I studied the way it impacts us and how to overcome it, then shame would be easier to avoid, to identify, and to elude, right?

The truth is shame will find you, no matter how much you know.

Shame will grab you and do everything it can to crush you.

Shame will find a way to hold you under the water and no one will ever know you’re drowning because the amazing thing about shame is it tricks you into silencing yourself when you most need to scream for help.

In “Rising Strong“, Brené Brown’s newest book, she says, “…shame crashes over you with such force that you go into do-or-die survival mode.”

She goes on to say, “Ironically, I always warn people not to be seduced into believing that they can manage these moments simply because they’ve learned how they work. We call shame the master emotion for a reason.”

I was genuinely surprised when I recently realized that I’ve been drowning in shame for well over a year in my relationship with my partner.

What’s worse, is in the tiny moments when I spotted glimpses of my shame, I felt deeply ashamed of feeling that shame because as a professional, I should (there’s that word) know better.

And so I hid.

I silenced myself.

I shrank, wished for a different reality, and through all of that resistance, suffered tremendous pain which, of course, fed my shame even more.

Each of us have different shame triggers, and many of us have one or two primary triggers that we carry for most of our lives.

One of my shame triggers is a nasty little voice that likes to whisper how unloveable I am.

Most of the time, that voice is a distant, nagging irritant that I can acknowledge without feeding it. We have found a way to live fairly harmoniously.

It’s an on-going process for me to remind myself I am worthy, I am enough, I am lovable, and it has gotten easier with practice to hold this knowledge inside of me as a truth.

I started to see cracks in my lovability as I fell more deeply in love with my partner. I began to internalize a dialog that told me I wasn’t living up to his expectations.

We have an open relationship. My partner identifies as poly, and I identify as non-monogamous.

When we first started co-creating this relationship, I had a few other lovers and non-monogamy felt pretty easy. As my feelings for my partner, who is simply extraordinary, became more important to me, something started shifting.

What once was easy was becoming crushingly difficult.

I started talking to myself about snapping out of it. I began a daily routine of speaking to myself like a drill sergeant.

Figure this out. Find out what’s holding you back. Name all the ways you’re insecure and start fixing them. Do more self-care, dammit! That’s not good enough. You’re going to ruin this amazing relationship. Get with the program.

That’s still not good enough.

You’re not good enough.

If you know the difference between guilt and shame, you can see how that last one is when things took a turn for the worse.

What made it more complicated is that I also live with PTSD from sexual trauma as well as anxiety.

But as a sex positive professional who is surrounded by folks who easily and naturally practice polyamory and non-monogamy, I felt utterly and completely alone.

I started wincing every time the word “poly” got mentioned.

I pulled inside myself and scrolled as quickly as I could past articles extolling the virtues of non-monogamy.

When my partner went on dates, I felt like something inside of me was dying, but knowing just how important our relationship structure was to him, I would only disclose smaller versions of my truth.

I would buckle down. Work harder. Dig deeper. Find a way. I could do this on my own.

Because I was convinced I was a failure, and who wants to show the world what a total and complete failure they are?

That’s when shame won.

Shame wants nothing more than your total and complete isolation. Shame salivates over your panic. And the thing shame loves more than anything is when you feel shame about having shame.

Oh yes. In the world of shame, nothing is more elegant and perfect than a shame spiral.

This deepening sense of worthlessness and dread nurtured itself inside of me for nearly a full year.

I started feeling like I was reaching my breaking point – which honestly sounded like: I will just end things. I can’t make him happy. I feel miserable about what a fraud I am. I’ll just pull the plug and save us both.

All of this despite the fact that my partner and I have one of the most accepting, trusting, passionate, communicative relationships on the planet. Because it wasn’t about him, or about us.

It was about me, being trapped under the weight of my own shame, and trying to disown my story without facing it.

I was resisting my truth.

Shame can drive us to do horrible things. Shame can traumatize us, harm us, and lead to depression, anxiety, and even violence.

Then, I had the fortune of having a perfect storm of circumstances force my shame out into the light.

First, my partner and I had pretty significant miscommunication that threw us into the deep end.

Second, I attended a workshop on shame by the glorious Charlie Glickman at the Woodhull Sexual Freedom Summit. Being confronted by so much information about shame, and also hearing so many people in the room express feelings and thoughts that echoed my own, I began to realize what was happening to me.

Third, I did what I do best, and I leapt towards what felt most vulnerable. I moved into my discomfort and had a series of scary conversations, ending with a raw, brutal tell-all one night with my partner.

I was inconsolable in my grief and pain, but as I started to drag my shame out into the light of day, it began to shrink.

We worked through that conversation together. My partner holding space for my truth, inviting time for me to share my feelings – even the really ugly ones. He offered me such grace and patience, which in turn allowed me to start to treat myself with the same amount of kindness.

For weeks after, I felt lighter than I had in months. Certainly, I still felt tender and raw, unsure of what this new world meant for me, but I felt seen and heard. I felt proud that I’d faced my deepest fears.

I felt my self-worth returning, but this time it was stronger and more rooted in my sense of self than ever before.

Because we’d been to hell and back and learned something powerful in the process.

As fate will do, shortly after all of this unfolded, an article landed in my lap that beautifully captured so much of what I’d been struggling to find words for. Even better were some of the comments.

My favorite comment spoke directly to the fear I’d been carrying for so long. The story I’d been telling myself was that if I couldn’t make myself look like everyone else who does non-monogamy, then I was a failure.

The comment, in part, said, “Every poly relationship is entirely unique to the individuals involved. In every relationship, poly or mono, we make allowances for the strengths and weaknesses of our partners…If I choose to be in relationship with you, I accept you as you are, and then will negotiate a relationship that works for us rather than one that works for someone else.”

Message received, world. Message received.

Shame only thrives in darkness. So, by sharing our stories and discussing our pain, we can begin the process of healing. Together.

Shame can show up in many different ways for each of us, and when it does, you feel like you are entirely alone in your struggle.

My shame shows up around my body, my talent, and my lovability. You may not have any shame in these spaces at all.

We can feel shame around parenting, or success, or money, or our education.

But where so many of us experience a great deal of shame is around sex and intimacy – the way our body looks naked, especially if it’s changed over the years; the way we experience orgasm (or not); the fantasies in our head; the things that turn us on; the fact that our bodies or our desire may not align with what all of the mainstream magazines and movies tell us it should be.

Every mention of the thing that we feel ashamed of can trigger more hiding, more yucky feelings, and more fear.

What makes shame even worse is when a partner shames us for something we are already struggling with – like watching porn or masturbating.

Though shame in very tiny doses can help us make changes, the kind of shame most of us experience is far beyond what’s healthy.

When we feel ashamed, we pull within and try to bury our truth. The deeper we push it, the more controlling and powerful it becomes.

No relationship can thrive when shame is sitting at the head of the table. No person can achieve wholeness when they’re weighed down by shame.

So, I do not take it lightly when I suggest that you find a way to come to terms with any areas where you are experiencing shame and share your fears with someone, because I know how profoundly difficult it can be to admit these things to yourself, much less utter those words to someone else.

Start with a therapist or a coach. Call into a sex positive podcast. Write a letter to someone you trust. Write a letter to yourself, even.

The bottom line is that you are valuable, powerful, beautiful, and normal just as you are. Shame will hide that truth from you and tell you horrible stories about yourself and your worth.

So, I’m inviting you to share your shame with me. Just as I’ve shared mine with you.

Let’s start a movement of dragging our shame out into the light and aligning with our truths, even if they’re terrifying.

If the people in your life cannot accept you when you’re standing in your truth, then the sooner you figure that out, the sooner you can build a new life, find new loved ones who do. And then that’s when the really good stuff unfolds for you.

It gets easier.

Just do it.

Dare greatly.

Whatever motto or movement inspires you, I implore you to shine just the tiniest of light into the darkest corners of your shame to see what happens.

You may just find that eventually you can fill those once-haunted spaces with love, gratitude, joy, and acceptance.

And whatever happened with me?

Well, by speaking my shame and giving my fears a voice, I started experiencing immediate relief. I’ve connected with other non-monogamous folks, shared my story, listened to theirs, and I’m finding new growth and acceptance where there was pain and suffering. My partner and I are co-creating our relationship, each and every day, and we have a vision for something uniquely our own. And yes, that vision includes non-monogamy.

If you’d like to share your experience with shame, I invite you to comment below or shoot me a message. You can even do it anonymously if you aren’t quite ready to make yourself known.

You deserve to let go of the stories that are not lifting you up.

If you decide to voice your shame with a partner, make sure you set both of you up for success by choosing a time when you’re both present and relaxed, when you can ask your partner to hold safe space for you, because you’ll probably fumble it a bit.

And that is OK. It’s part of the process. You’ve got this.

[callout title=”Work with me” link=”” class=”hb-aligncenter”]Your desire, your fantasies, your voice deserve to be explored and heard. I’m here to help. [/callout]


Are you still flirting with your sweetheart?

When was the last time you made an effort by flirting with your partner? From boosting confidence to igniting desire, find out how to up your flirting game. Sex coach Dawn Serra

One of my favorite rituals with my partner is the way we flirt with each other.

At least once per day, my phone buzzes with excitement, alerting me that a text has arrived. I'm smiling before I even see what it says, butterflies flitting through my tummy.

I'm thinking about this morning, and a smile grows on my lips.

A little shiver runs through me. We had incredible phone sex that morning before he'd gone off to work, while I was in the car in the parking lot of a popular cafe.

Another morning it might go something like:

*kisses your collarbone and straddles your waist, pinning you to the bed*

Depending on the day, we may feel dark and gritty or we may feel playful and silly. My favorite is when I send the beginning of a sexy scene and he finishes it.

Me: *quietly steps up behind you as you work, sliding a folded note in your pocket, and then sneaks off with a wink over my shoulder*

Him: *unfolds the note and blushes at what it says* You are VERY naughty, my dear.

The exchange may carry on for a few texts if it's a busy day, or off and on for hours. No matter what, it is always a wonderful way for us to stay connected.

Flirting is a simple, fun way to make each other feel special and desired, and it's not just for brand new relationships.

One of the leading reasons people stray, whether it's a monogamous or a non-monogamous relationship, is because they feel undesirable, unwanted, invisible, or like they are no longer their own person with their own identity.

It's normal for relationships to ebb and flow, and life has a way of falling into monotony. Comfort and routine can be very alluring when our lives are endlessly busy and stressful.

Too often, though, as your relationship falls into routine, you stop seeing each other as unique, complex, mysterious individuals and you start assuming you know everything there is to know about one another. That lack of autonomy and individuality is where a lot of relationships begin to experience trouble.

Because it's easy to take things for granted when you assume things will always be the same.

Erotic energy thrives on mystery and risk.

To stoke your passion, you need to fuel the flames by introducing elements of the unknown and the unpredictable.

Flirting is a deliciously easy way to keep that mystery alive. In fact, feeling seen and wanted is as easy as a snap of the camera, click of the 'send' button, or the scribble of an unexpected note.

Why? One of the most desirable experiences is being desired by someone. Flirting with your sweetheart is a powerful way to show your desire. Not to mention the confidence boost it gives them.

It's also a chance to get creative with what turns you on, to try out new fantasies, and to practice new skills.

As an added bonus, firting with your partner often ends up making you feel sexy because you're giving yourself permission to think about your erotic self.

It's a fun little feedback loop.

What are some fun ways to flirt?

I polled some friends to find out their favorite flirting techniques. Some of the responses include:

"Show particular body parts by surprise!"

"Sexy texts, occasionally with a picture of my anatomy."

"I leave cards & notes on his truck."

"We have a chalk board [for writing notes to each other]."

"I have a look and a smile that [he] calls 'that look!'"

"A Victoria's Secret changing room photo shoot."

"I pretend we're strangers and give him compliments. I ask him if his girlfriend appreciates his nice legs, face framing brows, etc."

"I unnecessarily brush against them when going past. Bonus points if I can get erogenous zones."

Ready to up your flirting game?

Try one, some, or all of these to see what feels best for you. Flirting is nothing more than the art of being playful and appreciative of someone else.

  1. Hold eye contact across a room or in a public space and let a little smile dance across your lips as you think of your beau doing something sexy. They'll know you're imagining something naughty, which will pique their curiosity. (Or, as one friend called it, "Eye fucking...across a crowded room."
  2. Let them know they're on your mind by sexting, emailing, or writing a note that you then hide in their wallet or lunch bag.
  3. Build anticipation by buying or wearing something erotic, and then taking a series of pictures that slowly reveals what it is. Bubbles in the tub, toes peeking out, the flesh of your thighs beneath the water...
  4. Use the power of touch to delight and entice. This is especially powerful when you're out in public, so that you both know you can't follow through on anything too scandalous until you're in private. A finger trailed softly along the back of the neck, a kiss dancing along the inside of a wrist or on the tips of each finger, the press of your body as you slide behind them at a party or in line at the store, a hand on the small of the back to let them know you're there. This is about the art of the tease, so aim for tiny little tidbits.
  5. Get explicit about what you want them to do to you later. Leave a voicemail or whisper it in their ear. Let them hear the need in your voice.
  6. Compliment them on something unexpected that shows them you're paying attention and appreciate them in a new way.
  7. Wink. Wrestle. Gently snap a towel at their bum. Give them little spots of playful teasing to let them know you think they're the bees knees.

Remember that it's not about being someone else or doing something out of character. Find ways to adapt these ideas to something that feels authentic and meaningful to you.

Flirting only works when it's genuine.

If you're faking it or forcing it, you're more likely to drive someone away than bring each other closer together.

What if you and your partner haven't flirted with each other in a while? No problem. It's perfectly OK to let them know it's something you want to start doing again. By making your needs known and using your voice, you're more likely to have the kind of exchange that makes you both feel good.

Don't worry about looking stupid. If you make a mistake or mess up, call yourself out, turn it into a funny new memory, and share a giggle.

Because I can't be the only one who has fallen off the bed, snorted while trying to be seductive, and seriously messed up a sexy text by not noticing the auto-correct. I want to do no such thing with a duck, thank you very much.

As much as flirting helps to strengthen the bond between the two of you by keeping things fresh and new, one of the best outcomes of flirting is that it awakens your inner siren.

So many of my clients struggle with a lack of desire. Some of that stems from not seeing themselves as sexual beings any longer - either because their body has changed or they're parenting or life is just too damn busy.

Flirting invites you to reconnect with that part of yourself that feels and expresses passion.

Suddenly, you're looking for excuses to try on new lingerie or to pull out that sexy outfit you haven't worn in ages. You start wanting to show off little flashes of skin or teasing your partner with playful little movements.

When flirting becomes something you do for yourself, because tapping into your sexual self arouses you, that's when the real magic happens.

Because yes, sometimes flirting can feel like a chore, something you should do, another thing on the To Do list.

But when you feel that adrenaline rush, when your skin tingles with anticipation, when you feel your body responding to the sexy thoughts racing through your mind, flirting becomes part of your sexual experience.

And how delicious is that?

I want to hear your favorite way to flirt. Share your thoughts below and let's let ourselves feel wanted.

Looking to up your flirting game? Download this fun little worksheet on sexting made easy. It includes 10 prompts you can use to start a sexy conversation, plus some additional flirty suggestions to get your creative juices flowing.

Are you ready to up your flirting game?

I'm here to help. It's what I do.

From one-on-one coaching to bi-weekly group calls, there are so many ways for you to start leveling up and reconnecting with your desire (and each other).

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 tends to become the only thing you can see. That whole forest for the trees saying in action.

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.

Work with me

If you're ready to find ways to express yourself in your relationship...

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 the darkness.

You are not weak. 

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. (Except when it's not because oppression and capitalism...)

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 create space to breathe 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 powerful and beautiful and valued. 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.

I'm here for you.

Whether you need support or you're ready to find new ways to thrive in love & pleasure, check out the ways we can work together.

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=”” 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=”” 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=”” 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.

6 I don’t want sex as much as I used to. How do I get that spark back?

Blog pic (1)

I can remember lying in bed at night wondering if something was wrong with me. I had no desire to have sex with my partner at the time, and while the sex was OK when we did have it, it was largely non-existent. In fact, we fought about it quite a lot.

I felt sad, frustrated, and even a little ashamed. How had I, one of the most sexual people in my circle of friends, gotten to a place where sex just wasn’t part of my life?

That place can feel lonely. That place can drive a huge wedge between you and your partner(s). It can make you feel undesirable, unwanted, and utterly hopeless.

But there is a way out of that place. It starts with busting some pretty large myths we have about sex. Well, one in particular.

Specifically, the myth of how sex should be something you want all the time.

This myth is one of the most common and pervasive in our world.

It’s the myth that tells us that desire and passion and great sex are spontaneous. That when you see your partner you should experience this surge of need and immediately want to get naked. That as soon as you start touching, you should be rock hard or super wet and ready to go.

This myth informs us that if sex doesn’t happen spontaneously then it’s not sexy or real or good.

In fact, the story even suggests that if you don’t want sex just because your partner is available to you then something may be wrong.

That’s when the little voice starts wondering and worrying…are we drifting apart? Do they not find me as attractive? Am I with the wrong person? Is something wrong with me? Is it because I put on some weight or we had the kids or… Maybe I’m just not a very sexual person?

And on and on and on.

Sex becomes an elephant in the room because you think you should (there’s that word) want sex more. That it should be easier. It should be like it was when you first met when you couldn’t keep your hands off of each other and sex happened without a second thought.

This is where the “low libido” language comes in. But that’s another myth for another day.

So, let’s talk about this belief that desire should be spontaneous.

Spontaneous desire, like almost all information about sex, comes from a very limited understanding of sex based entirely on the experience of folks with a penis (and only certain ones, at that).

We all know the cultural stories that tell us men always want sex. That it’s all they think about. That they can’t help themselves. It’s a terribly toxic masculinity myth for all genders, even cis men.

Unfortunately, almost all sex information is built on a foundation that is exclusively informed by the young, able-bodied, male sexual experience.

I know that sounds super fancy, but basically almost everything the media, medical communities, and schools teach us about sex is based on the way “normal” dudes are thought to have sex. Seriously.

But what about the rest of us?

I’m going to generalize for a second and say – if all of the stuff we know about sex is created entirely from a place of what young guys experience, then it’s no wonder so many women feel like something is broken or wrong, right? The stories around trans and queer sex are even more skewed.

Think about that for just a moment.

The norms you know about how sex is supposed to be are based on something that has nothing to do with you.

Talk about frustrating. (I could get into the why of all that, but I’d need several books to do that, and people much smarter and much more informed than me have already started doing that. So I’ll leave it to them.)

For most people, especially women, desire is, as Emily Nagoski calls it, responsive.

What does that mean?

It means that desire, that wanting sex, doesn’t just magically happen for most of us.

Instead, desire and wanting sex only happen AFTER some sexual stimuli has started. You’re responding to something, so that makes you responsive.

Now, unless you’re asexual, many of us experience both spontaneous and responsive desire at different points in our lives. Responsive desire is the default for many of us.

When you’re in a new relationship and your brain is high as a kite on love chemicals (that’s a real thing), everything seems tantalizing and exciting and arousing, so desire and sex tend to happen much more spontaneously.

But even then, there’s already a certain amount of stimulation happening from all of the kissing and the puppy love looks at each other and the touching…

The bottom line? The way you experience desire and sex is NORMAL, even if it seems like everything is telling you otherwise.

Having an understanding that our cultural stories about sex are so narrowly defined means when you learn the truth, you can begin exploring what sex means to you on your own terms.

So, what can you do if you want more desire in your life? Stop waiting for it to magically happen.

Give me the stink eye all you like. I know that’s not the most satisfying answer, since we all want the magic pill, the quick fix, the easy way out. But part of what makes your sexual experiences and your pleasure so incredible is how unique and nuanced they are.

It’s not one size fits all.

For most of us, waiting until you want sex is like waiting in the tower of a castle in a distant land for a knight in shining armor to come find you.

Isn’t it a much more exciting story to find a way your own way out of that tower, so that you can embark on an adventure that makes you feel empowered and happy?

In other words, if you want desire and sex, you can make it happen by creating circumstances that make you feel sexy.

It’s like you’re sending an invitation to your sexual self, inviting her out to play.

This is where I get a lot of resistance from clients. Because if sex doesn’t just magically happen (which is a passive approach), then it means you have to show up and participate.

But how freaking fun is that?!?!

You can literally do anything, say anything, think anything, try anything that feels good to you. On your terms. Whenever you want to – whether that’s daily, weekly, monthly, or once per decade.

It’s the ultimate adventure!

And it doesn’t have to be fancy. You can invite desire in anytime, anywhere.

As you start to understand how your desire works and what turns you on (this changes all the time, by the way), then you can start really taking advantage of your own sexual power.

There are two critical keys to tapping into your desire if you tend to be responsive rather than spontaneous.

First, remove as many stressors as possible. People overlook this, but you need to start here. What’s most likely to keep you from enjoying yourself? Find ways to eliminate it or put it on hold for a minute.

Because if you’re in your head worrying about doing the laundry or when the kids will walk in, you probably aren’t really connecting with yourself or the moment.

Second, have fun. Tease yourself. Build anticipation. Flirt. Do what feels good. Check out these posts on what to do if you don’t have time for sex, how to talk dirty, and claiming pleasure on your own terms. Start there and then the sky is the limit.

When you take control of your desire and make sex happen when you want it to happen, it takes on a whole new juicy dimension.

It’s about being your own hero, it’s about opening to your own potential and seeing all of the delicious possibilities you have at your fingertips.

Desire follows your lead. So, lead her down a sexy path and she’ll go there with you.

So, let’s recap. The myth of spontaneous desire makes many people feel inadequate and frustrated.

If you don’t magically want sex at the drop of a hat or if sex just seems terribly elusive, there is nothing wrong with you. It just means you get to take matters into your own hands.

Spontaneous sex is awesome in the movies and in romance novels, but in the real world where you’re juggling one million things all of the time, that’s just not how many of us are built.

Spontaneous desire may come and go, but responsive desire is much more common. Which is a fancy way of saying:

Your desire is simply waiting for an invitation to come out and play.

Instead of waiting for desire to come to you, what can you do to invite yourself to experience pleasure? What kind of permission can you give yourself to open to desire and tap into your arousal?

One last thought – don’t be hard on yourself if you’re in a phase where sex isn’t high on your priority list. Sex will ebb and flow for many of us.

Just remember you’re in the driver’s seat of your own pleasure, so whether it’s by yourself or with a partner, you can decide when and how desire can be a part of your life. You just have to be willing to get a little creative and a little playful, and amazing things can happen.

[callout title=”Let’s chat” link=”” class=”hb-aligncenter”]If you’re ready to stop ignoring the places where you’re stuck and find new ways to connect, I’m here for you. [/callout]