5 Are you ready to claim your pleasure and create a better sex life?

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I have a confession.

It’s personal and involves years of embarrassment on my part, so I hope you’ll be patient with me as my story of self discovery unfolds.

From the time I was in my early teens, I loved pleasuring myself.

I don’t remember exactly when I made the discovery, but I distinctly remember wishing for time alone at the house in middle school and high school so that I could get naked and take care of business. It was usually a rushed, shameful little affair – never lasting more than a few minutes, waiting for that warm rush of pleasure to hit, and then I’d hurriedly put myself back together.

I didn’t feel like I could talk to anyone about it because my friends would proudly declare that they didn’t need to masturbate because they had boyfriends, and of course, why would you ever masturbate if you could have a real person?

Since I didn’t date much in high school, but was very sexually charged, I took care of business myself.

On the day I turned 18, I took myself to a sex toy store and bought my first vibrator. It was a long, flexible wand with a little bullet on the end so that I could get into all sorts of positions and still reach my clit.

I graduated to an internal vibrator not long after that (for some reason I thought dildos were only for perverts – I don’t know where that idea came from, but it was there). In the early 2000’s, I even owned my own sex toy business for a few years, selling all manner of vibrators and lube and stimulants to my customers.

Through it all, I never used my hands on myself. It was always a toy. Always kind of rushed. Always goal-oriented.

And when I was in relationships, I didn’t realize I could bring toys into the mix and I certainly didn’t know how to share what I liked, so as a result, sex was decent, but it wasn’t mind-blowing.

One day in my mid-to-late 20’s, I was laying around and started casually touching myself with my hand. I’m pretty sure my favorite vibe wasn’t working (dead batteries), so I started exploring myself. At first, it was simply a gentle exploration of my skin, comforting and sweet. But I found my body responding and I rolled with it.

It was a much slower process since my hands didn’t offer the same intensity that my vibrators did, but I became more and more aroused and when I finally came it was a glorious burst of colors and warmth, and went on and on and on.

A new world opened up for me.

In that moment, I realized how disconnected I’d been from my body. I would grab a toy, orgasm as quickly as possible without really thinking about what I was doing, clean up and pretend nothing happened.

This new world of my beautifully dextrous hands meant slowing down and exploring. It allowed me to start a dialog with my body that changed everything.

I found that even when I went back to toys, it was a much more intentional experience. I found I could orgasm over and over again when I gave myself permission to settle in and be in the moment. It was a masturbatory awakening.

Like so many people, I grew up thinking that sex was this very singular thing – PIV (or penis-in-vagina). And I know I wasn’t alone. At my high school in southern California, so many of the kids believed that oral sex and anal sex weren’t REALLY sex, so they engaged in it frequently and without any guilt or shame around losing their virginity.

Along with all of that mess, I (we) believed masturbation was something you did until you met someone. It was a placeholder for “real” sex. Friends echoed this belief, and no one ever told me otherwise in my sex ed classes or in the pages of Cosmo.

Thankfully, through my own exploration I learned just how powerful and freeing masturbation could be. By claiming my pleasure and understanding my body, it led to a better sex life, and a much more pleasurable one for me and my partners.

Sadly, many people see self-pleasure as a pathetic stand-in for “real sex”. This attitude, paired with the shame that most people internalize around masturbation, means way too many folks are missing out on one of the most powerful (and free) pleasurable tools we have in our sex toolbox.

You have my enthusiastic permission to get your hand (or your favorite toy) in your pants and go to town.

When you prioritize your own pleasure on a regular basis, you not only start to form an intimate and powerful relationship with your body, but you begin to understand that you deserve pleasure during other sexual activities.

It might seem like a given – the importance of getting to know your body and enjoying all of the delicious sensations it’s capable of – but too often people (women especially) sacrifice their pleasure out of fear of taking too long, of being selfish, of being seen, of doing something wrong or gross, or of asking too much of their lovers. This self-induced silence can lead to a pretty unsatisfying sex life.

That’s not to say you have to masturbate. But, if you’re curious or if you like bringing yourself pleasure, then make it a priority and have fun with your gorgeous self.

Regular self-pleasure sessions can not only release stress (even if it doesn’t end in orgasm), but they create a dialog between you and your body and they give you a way to answer honestly when a lover asks how to please you.

Try it! You’ll like it.

Self-pleasure is normal, healthy, powerful, sexy, and fun. Don’t worry about being politically correct, either. Any fantasy or desire that you use to get off is perfectly OK (even if it’s really really taboo or unacceptable in real life).

Treat masturbation like a juicy experiment. It’s not about succeeding or failing, it’s about gathering information so that each time something happens, you have more and more data to guide yourself the next time.

The more variety you embrace, the more you’ll learn about all of the things your body likes or doesn’t like.

What does it feel like to use your fingers? What about rubbing yourself while laying with a pile of pillows under your tummy? Or standing, bent over the side of the bed with a dildo? How does the shower massager feel or a new vibrator or nipple clamps? It’s all healthy and normal and fun.

As you get more and more comfortable experimenting with yourself and creating that dialog with your body, you’ll become more relaxed and confident when it comes to claiming your pleasure – both by yourself and with a partner.

Instead of feeling pressured to perform, you’ll be ready to relax into the bliss that is all of your favorite sensations, and you’ll be more prepared to instruct and ask for exactly what you want.

One tool. Many uses.

You cannot do masturbation wrong. If it feels good, you’re doing it right, even if it doesn’t end in an orgasm.

Follow your arousal down the rabbit hole of pleasure, and see where you end up. If you treat your pleasure like a curiosity, without expectation or a goal in mind, you can end up all sorts of wild places.

Beyond self-pleasure when you’re solo, it can be fun to mutually masturbate with a partner. Because let’s be real – sometimes you need to take matters into your own hands if you’re craving something specific. Plus, watching your partner touch themselves can be wonderfully erotic and teach you a thing or two about how to touch them.

No matter how you do it, self-pleasure is a beautiful way to honor yourself and your body and all those sensations you’re capable of. When you take matters into your own hands (pun intended), it not only means you have a more intimate relationship with your body, but you’ll also experience a better sex life when you find new ways to ask for what you want and what feels good.

Because in the end, the only person who is responsible for your pleasure is yourself.

I cooked up a fun list of 50 ways to experiment with self-pleasure.

Click below, enter your details, and I’ll email it over to you in a hot second.

Psst. Did you know that May is Masturbation Month? It is! So use that as a reason to celebrate solo.

And one other thing, if you haven’t heard, I’m creating a beautiful and very exclusive online sex boutique. It will have the best products in the world, and I hope to launch late this summer. So stay tuned. The store will have some very unique twists that you haven’t seen before like a personal shopper option and suggestion cards with each and every item.

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8 A new frontier for relationships and happiness?

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A few nights ago, I attended a fantastic workshop called “Dating Your Species” by the amazing and fabulous Reid Mihalko and Monique Darling. I had selfish reasons for attending. Reid is a master at workshop facilitation when it comes to relationships and sex, and I wanted to observe him in his natural habitat.

But beyond that, the content of the workshop was phenomenal, as well.

I don’t want to give away all of Reid’s secrets, and I actually have a different system for finding great partners to date, but the main point I took away from last night is something I’ve been trying to find the words for and Reid said it perfectly:

The way we measure the success of a relationship is no longer duration, but instead, depth and honesty.

For the past several generations, the length of a relationship was all that mattered. Reid pointed out that being married 70 years even if you were miserable was considered a win.

But times are changing.

We all prize happiness in our lives more than ever. Ending a relationship that no longer makes us happy makes sense.

Reid asked how many of us had been to a divorce celebration. I raised my hand. A dear friend of mine threw a huge party on the day her divorce was final. But he then asked, how many of us had been to a divorce party where BOTH parties were in attendance and happy about it. All hands, including mine, went down.

What if, when a relationship no longer made us happy, we had the maturity and the courage to say, “I love you. This seems to have run its course. So before we start hating each other and before we get totally miserable, can we part ways while there’s still love?” Wouldn’t that be cause for a huge celebration?

This concept is something I’ve brought up over the past year or two to some friends, and I always get strange looks. I suspect it’s because I hadn’t found a way to articulate it so that it made sense.

But I don’t have to. Because Reid did it for me.

What if we stay together for as long as we’re both happy and agree going in to have the integrity to speak up when things aren’t working anymore?

How many of your exes are still in your life? How many would you consider your friend? Someone you care about and can rely on?

Wouldn’t it be extraordinary if we chose more wisely going in and behaved more maturely on the way out?

What if instead of breaking up, we called it transitioning?

Just because we decide our intimate relationship has run its course, who’s to say we can’t transition our connection into that of a dear friend? After all, you thought this person was special enough to date, mate, or partner with… wouldn’t they be special enough to be called a friend?

But here’s where it gets scary…

In order to do this, you have to show up, be seen, be honest, and have scary conversations.

I’m a HUGE advocate for saying the scary stuff. So much so that I’m developing an entire program around it.

Because when you say the scary stuff, you get your needs met.

When you say the scary stuff, you release resentment and offer each other the opportunity to step up.

When you say the scary stuff, you know once and for all whether this person is capable or willing to meet you where you need to be met.

And the sooner you know the answer to that question, the sooner you can move towards happiness – either together or on your own.

Life is too short for staying together out of sheer determination.

You deserve more than getting by, hanging in there, making it work, muscling through, gritting your teeth, or doing the best that you can.

You deserve bliss and passion and a “hell yes!” from your partner, and from yourself.

This isn’t about running away, either.

Relationships take work. Sometimes things suck. Sometimes it takes years to work through problems or to reach the place you want to be in.

But there is a difference between deeply loving someone and wanting to put in the work versus trying to put band-aids on a gaping wound out of a fear of being alone or of hurting someone’s feelings.

So, I propose a new frontier for relationships and happiness:

  • Instead of using relationships to fix us or work through our crap, we do the work on ourselves before we enter a relationship to ensure we know what we want, what we need, why it’s important to us, and how to communicate it well.
  • Instead of trying to fix someone or “seeing potential” in someone, we only enter into a relationship with someone who has done the work and has the basic skills to communicate openly and truthfully.
  • Instead of sticking it out because that’s what you’re supposed to do and instead of ignoring that little voice that says you’re not really very happy, we respect ourselves and the other person enough to mindfully enter into a relationship or end things as soon as you realize it’s not working.
  • Instead of assuming what worked then still works now and coasting/ignoring/denying issues, we find the courage to check in regularly, to have scary conversations, to address issues as they arise in a loving and open way, and to keep doing this over and over and over again throughout the lifetime of the relationship.
  • Instead of blaming and hiding and judging our partners when they do something we don’t like, we take responsibility for asking for what we want, create a safe space to say the tough stuff, and focus on creating joy together as often as possible.
  • Instead of waiting until everyone is miserable and it’s nothing but passive aggressive digs and fights and deception, we agree to respectfully transition the relationship into something else when you find you’re no longer happy or meeting each other’s needs, and doing so like grown-ups (yes it will hurt and yes it will suck and feeling bad is OK – creating unnecessary drama is not).
  • Instead of manipulation and codependence, we do it all from a place of respect, honesty, vulnerability, and integrity.
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Imagine a world where we all embrace this new paradigm.

No more senseless drama. No more manipulation or lying. No more cheating. No more waiting for someone to read your mind. No more wondering why relationships are so damn hard but never putting in the work to show up.

Because you can be you AND you can be happy.

When you step back and consider this new world order, what scares you most?

Wouldn’t you rather be happy and living a big, bold life on your terms than feeling trapped inside a relationship that makes you feel small and unappreciated?

The worst thing in life is not being alone. It’s being in a relationship with someone and feeling utterly lonely.

What would you like to change in order to find that happiness in this new frontier of relationship success?

Would you rather look back and say “I had several deep, profound loves in my life, all of which taught me something incredible and we’re all still friends” or “we were married 65 years and we couldn’t stand each other for the last 30″?

I invite you to share this post with your partner, if you have one, and have a conversation about it.

No pressure to change anything. No expectations. Just use it as a way to start having new conversations about what you want and what that might look like.

Be patient with each other. Change doesn’t happen overnight, but giving yourself permission to explore new thoughts and ideas is a powerful practice for keeping you both happy and connected.

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1 Eliminate these three words to improve your sexual confidence

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I’ve noticed an epidemic in my life and in the lives of my clients. The more I look and listen, the more I realize it’s everywhere. We’re all suffocating beneath layers of guilt, shame, comparison, and fear all because of three little words.

This is especially true when it comes to sex and the way we view our bodies.

You may not even realize they’re showing up in your life, but I can guarantee you that if these words creep up when you’re talking about your body, your sexual confidence, your sex life, or your partner, then your pleasure and enjoyment are probably being hijacked.

Are you ready for them?

“Should” and “supposed to”.

And here’s how these dangerous words tend to show themselves:

— “I/My partner should want sex more often.”

— “I’m supposed to feel something when he touches me.”

— “Shouldn’t it feel good when you do this?”

— “He should seduce me rather than expecting me to just turn it on.”

— “Isn’t the best part of sex supposed to be having an orgasm?”

— “Everyone says I’m supposed to masturbate, but isn’t it a lesser form of sex?”

— “I should feel happy about this.”

Do you hear yourself in any of these phrases or questions?

They come up in my self-talk a lot, and when I’m meeting with a client, especially someone who is in distress, these words are usually littered throughout their entire description of what’s wrong and why they’re so frustrated or lost.

So, let’s do something radical together.

Let’s ban “should” and “supposed to” from our vocabulary and from our thoughts. When you catch them creeping up on you, karate chop those jerks right into next week and don’t give them the energy they so desperately want.

Doing this one thing can drastically shift your perspective in the most profound ways and immediately boost your sexual confidence.

Because “should” is a refusal of what is. “Supposed to” is a denial of the truth. Both take you right out of the present and plunk you down somewhere else.

And I can tell you with 100% certainty that pleasure and joy and delirious happiness and deep desire live in the here and now.

You know what else these words do?

They place blame. They make the internal into an external problem. Something that’s over there, rather than something you can control and own up to and CHANGE.

Stop worrying about what SHOULD be happening, focus instead on what IS happening.

Instead of wondering if this is how something is supposed to feel, marvel at how it actually does (because even if it’s not great, at least you’re being honest about it and can do something about it).

When you are anywhere but in the present moment, you can’t give yourself the gift of changing the circumstances, of speaking up, of saying “this doesn’t work for me, so let’s do something else!”

In fact, when you have “should” and “supposed to” hanging out on your shoulders, whispering in your ear, they’re pretty much sucking the joy right out of whatever it is you’re doing and turning it into a burden instead of an adventure.

One more note on flipping the script on yourself.

When you take these words out of rotation, it’s going to require you to show up.

You’re going to be seen. You’ll have to learn to speak up. And, there’s a certain vulnerability in that. But, I promise, you can do this.

You deserve this. You really do.

So, let’s take those god awful phrases from up above and make a few of them into something useful, shall we? (I have a fun little worksheet for you at the end, too, so you can practice reframing a few on your own.)

1. I/My partner should want sex more often.

So many powerful alternatives to this one. How about “I want to want sex more often.”

That shows a desire for change, and it reflects the truth of where you are now and where you’d like to go. Now you have a concrete point A and point B.

You want to go from here to there. From not wanting sex very often to wanting sex more. A very achievable goal, I might add.

Another version could be “My partner does not want sex more often.”

Terrific! Now you know specifically what your partner does not want, and you can explore what you DO want.

Maybe your partner not wanting more sex is a good thing, because you don’t either. But if you want more sex and your partner does not, now you can actually sit down and have a loving conversation about your options. Or you can adjust your expectations.

Taking this more active approach is scary as hell, but now you aren’t burying your head in the sand or avoiding what is. Trust me – facing what is might be tough, but avoiding it for weeks, months, or years is so much more damaging and exhausting.

2. I’m supposed to feel something when he touches me.

Can you feel the obligation in that sentence? The guilt, the exhaustion, the wanting to be anywhere but here-ness?

What are some options?

“I don’t feel aroused when he touches me.”

Definitive. Concrete. Vulnerable and honest. You aren’t feeling aroused. That’s a vital acknowledgement if you want to change where you are.

Now that you’re admitting to yourself that you don’t feel aroused, what needs to change so that you do feel aroused? Or, does the change need to involve who is doing the touching?

The options may seem scary, but this statement breaks you out of the never-ending loop that is “supposed to”.

It could also become “I want to feel something when he touches me.”

Can you feel that desire for change in those words? There’s a longing or a wistfulness. It’s the beginning of a story.

And the amazing news is that you get to write your own story, but only when face your own truth.

From this place of wanting to feel something, you have so many choices to consider.

Did you used to feel something and it’s changed? What did it used to feel like? Did you never feel it and now you’re finally giving that truth a voice? Have your circumstances shifted (perhaps from having kids or taking on a new stressful job)?

Your words hold tremendous power over your happiness and experiences in life.

When you give yourself permission to exist in your own truth, you open the door to unbelievable beauty (and yes, sometimes that beauty comes after you work through something painful or difficult, but it’s so much better than the alternative).

Let’s do one more together.

3. He should seduce me rather than expecting me to just turn it on.

Ouch. This feels like a fight that’s played out many times, doesn’t it? The accusation and the hurt and the feelings of being so fed up that nothing ever changes…

“I want him to seduce me rather than expecting me to just turn it on.”

WOW. Can you feel the shift?

One of the things so many of us struggle with is stating our wants, needs, and desires. By removing “should”, suddenly you’ve stumbled across a want, which means you can lovingly ask for it from a place of power. This is where your assertive voice lives. This is how needs get met and you create a relationship based on openness and vulnerability.

What happens if our statement becomes “He doesn’t seduce me. It feels like he expects me to just turn it on.”

You’re observing what isn’t happening, which means you’re focused on actual behaviors, and now you’ve voiced a feeling of expectation of performance. There’s a certain burden or stress in that expectation, isn’t there?

Now you can have a conversation with him about your feelings (which cannot be denied because they’re your truth) and your observation. This has also given you insight into some of your wants – you don’t want to feel like sex is expected of you and you want to be seduced.

And just like that, you’ve found your voice.

You aren’t taught how to talk about your needs and wants at any point in your life. Maybe you were raised in a household that valued your voice and your experiences, but it’s rare that I meet someone who was so lucky.

To this day, I struggle to use my voice. When I learned this little trick, it made a tremendous difference for me in how I was experiencing my own voice and how I was experiencing sex.

Remember that sex and connecting with other people is fun and exciting and it feels good. So, approach this like an experiment.

See if you can catch yourself saying “should” or “supposed to” ten times this week and reframe the sentence or question in a new way, and then reflect on how it feels. It can be little things rather than great big things, but the more you practice, the easier it becomes to see the way these words show up for you.

One final thought on “should” and “supposed to”…

Often these words are used to pass judgment on others or to passive-aggressively share your disapproval. “Should you really be watching that?” or “You should really think about what that’s doing to the kids.”

When you’re on the receiving end of those words, it can be incredibly degrading, disrespectful, and irritating.

You deserve better and so do the people in your life that you love.

Let’s start a campaign to ban these words from everyone’s vocabulary. Let’s ask ourselves to show up and live our truths, and let’s ask the same of the people in our lives.

Having an accountability buddy can be incredibly helpful, too. As your partner to gently point out when you use these words. Something as simple as, “You just used ‘should’. What do you really want?”

Is there anything more supportive than someone inviting you to use your voice and speak your truth?

OK. So, now it’s your turn. Click to grab a little worksheet I created. Once you go through it, be sure to drop me a line letting me know what “should” statements came up for you.

2 The Power of Words: A Missive for Sexperts, Sex Therapists, & Educators

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Disclaimer: I realize that not all sex therapists, sex educators, sex workers, or sex professionals want to be inclusive and accepting. If that is you, I honor your path and encourage you to stop reading. This article isn’t for you.

I’ll admit that I struggle to use inclusive language sometimes. Being deliberate in my word choices can feel like a chore because I’m such a passionate, off-the-cuff, energetic person. Thinking about my words requires self-awareness, examining my motivations, and shining a light on my privilege and assumptions. It also means being as plugged in as I can with communities that may not be my own.

Honestly, until a few months ago, I considered myself a really open and accepting sex professional.

In my heart of hearts, I didn’t have any restrictions or judgments about people who were different from me, and it seemed like too much work to labor to change my words all the damn time to be super inclusive.

My heart was in the right place, my love and acceptance was limitless, so it was just me being a little careless with my words from time to time. No big deal, right?

That all changed when I attended the Woodhull Sexual Freedom Summit in August 2014.

First came the panel on sex worker’s rights. Holy shit, I thought. I’ve been using so many phases that shame sex workers and sex work.

I took copious notes and circled all the words and phrases I wanted to let go of.

Then, came a panel of sexperts including Nina Hartley, Buck Angel, and S. Bear Bergman. Bear started talking about how so many sex educators stress the importance of being in your body for a really powerful sexual experience.

As a trans man, he said, often the last place he wants to be is in his body. Being in his head, focusing on the other person – that’s where release was for him, escape. He also pointed out that masturbation for a lot of trans people isn’t an enjoyable experience the way it can be for cis folks. I scribbled more in my notebook and made a mental note to chew on that a lot more.

But it was during Cory Silverberg’s keynote speech that it all came crashing down around me.

He read his book, “What Makes a Baby,” and then talked about how much thought and effort he put into a story that would include all genders, all family units, all lifestyles and races and bodies, so that children from all backgrounds would feel like the story was there’s.

Cory talked about the power of words to change lives, to create powerful shifts, and to stimulate change – not just out in the world, but within ourselves. His speech was beautiful and moving.

To quote Cory,

“Language matters. If I use language that gets in the way, it doesn’t work.”

As an educator and coach, that struck a chord. I couldn’t let it go.

Admittedly, I spent the first half of his speech feeling angry and ashamed of my own resistance to change. The anger came from a place of discomfort. I was hearing an undeniable truth, and my excuses just didn’t hold up in the face of his eloquence and logic.

My ego was screaming, “But I don’t want to change! Change is scary!”

And then, I heard myself. I heard what a privileged asshole I was being.

There I was, enjoying the luxury of sitting at this conference with some of the greatest minds in the sex industry, with access to incredible resources and knowledge, and while I do suffer injustice and discrimination as a fat, cisgendered woman and someone who is queer, I was using DISCOMFORT as my excuse for not changing?

That was my a-ha moment.

Cory kept talking and I kept my head down, scribbling notes about his speech, but I was actually hiding the tears running down my cheeks. The wall of fear, the resistance to change crumbled, and suddenly, I understood.

I understood how my words shape the world around me. Not just the ones I say to clients, but the ones I say to myself and to colleagues.

I understood that my heart might be open to people who are different from myself, but my actions weren’t demonstrating that same acceptance.

I understood that as a sex coach, sex podcaster, and a sex writer, I hold tremendous influence to stimulate change, and I wasn’t using that power very responsibly.

I understood that inclusion isn’t about losing something of mine but gaining something of theirs – trust. Instead of being an island to myself I could become a part of a much larger world, and all it would take was being a little more deliberate in my word choice.

My journey is far from over.

The words I use and the way I frame the world are changing, but I still catch myself using language that might exclude or shame others. The awareness, though, is a part of me, and I hold myself accountable as often as possible. Ignorance is no longer an option.

It isn’t easy, but then, being an expert isn’t supposed to be easy. It takes work and constant growth and continual learning.

I’m up for the task. (I hope.)

You might be wondering why I’m writing this. The truth is I have seen some troubling trends from fellow sexperts in recent months, including a challenging conversation I had a few nights ago with someone who was using misogynistic language but claiming to be a feminist. And even after I called him out in a loving way, he refused to listen.

So, I’m putting my foot down. I’m drawing my line in the sand.

—————————–   <– line in the sand

This is my plea that we, as an industry, push ourselves to up the ante on inclusion and intention. Many of us are already doing this, so let’s keep that going.

Personality and flair can be a huge part of our success in this field, so I’m certainly not asking anyone to temper their sass or mute their persona.

Rather, I’m challenging all of us to be more creative by keeping our volume and passion the same while making a few small tweaks to the way we use our words.

After all, how many people will hear what we have to say and internalize those words and lessons and use them to influence others (their friends or children, for example)? Talk about a butterfly effect!

If one word might shame someone and leave them carrying a wound while another word might empower someone and give them a sense of acceptance and freedom, as professionals, why wouldn’t we opt for the more inclusive and healing word?

At first, opening myself up to receive feedback and to listen to voices that were different from my own felt exhausting. When I saw stories about white privilege or cis privilege or ableism, it felt like a personal attack.

Was I so wrong all of the time?

But, learning new skills doesn’t happen over night. As professionals, we all know that the path to success and wholeness isn’t a linear, straight progression, but a bumpy, twisty, wild ride.

I started listening and absorbing. I set my ego aside as much as I could and tried to listen. The more I listened, the more people were willing to open up and share.

My list of words and phrases to avoid grew, but in their place I learned new phrases and new frameworks that were more inclusive of different types of bodies, different relationship models, and I became more sensitive to race and culture issues, ableism, classism, transmisogyny… The list goes on.

Instead of shrinking my world, though, this awareness allowed it to expand.

Despite being in lesbian/queer relationships for 11 years, I’m in relationships with cis men right now. I still default to heteronormative language when I talk about sex because that’s where I am – if I’m sharing a personal story, that’s not a problem. But if I use my personal experience and then broadcast that to the world as the way things are for everyone, that’s problematic.

Another example is that sometimes I forget that not all women have vulvas and not all men have penises. Or forgetting to ask someone’s preferred pronoun because mine has always been such a given.

I still have to remind myself (sometimes after making a gaff) that not everyone wants or is capable of a genital orgasm. Not everyone who looks feminine uses female pronouns. And like Bear said, that not everyone wants to be in their body for the ultimate ecstatic experience.

I want this industry to be at the forefront of social change and radical acceptance, and often we are. The people I met at Woodhull are a shining example of that. I hope to be so inclusive and inspiring someday.

As professionals, we certainly can’t serve or appeal to everyone (nor do we really want to), but we can still make an effort to examine our language to find ways to eliminate words and phrases that scream judgment, exclusion, and otherness.

We are setting an example for every client, every reader, every viewer who interacts with us.

Becoming aware of my blindspots and privilege hasn’t been easy, but it’s been necessary. It’s also been a road filled with mistakes and missed opportunities.

Let’s forgive ourselves for our missteps and be patient when we’re struggling, but let’s also push each other to do better, to think bigger, to create a sex-positive environment that embraces all of our beautiful diversity. If anyone is skilled in tough conversations, we are.

So let’s not be afraid to call each other out – lovingly and respectfully – to make sure we’re all doing the best we can.

As we’ve seen with the deaths in Paris this week, words wield tremendous power.

To follow Cory’s lead, I don’t want my language to get in the way, to shut someone down, to make them feel like they don’t belong.

I want my words to create space and to reach across the divide.

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What words or phrases do you struggle with? What have you heard that’s been cringe-worthy, so that we can educate each other on stuff that might be ouchie?

If you’re not a sex educator or sex professional, what words have you heard that made you feel excluded or uncertain or left out?

Keeping sex fun (hint: when’s the last time you smiled in bed?)

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When was the last time you laughed in the middle of sex? Genuinely, honestly laughed?

Last week, my partner and I were deep in a rope bondage scene – my ankles were bound in rope cuffs, I was nearly immobilized, and things were intense and serious. Growls and gasps and grunts abounded. And then…something completely unexpected happened – one of our props popped off, causing a small, painful gasp out of him. Seconds later, it happened again.

*snap*

*snap*

He jumped up in shock and I looked at him, wide-eyed for a moment, and then it happened.

The giggles.

I tried to stop them, but one look at his face and it was all over.

Both naked, one of us (me) in a very exposed and compromising position, and him trying to walk off the sharp shock of pain. In seconds, we were both laughing uncontrollably. Every time I thought I had it under control, it would start again. Giggles, then belly laughs, and finally the tears.

Eventually, we got back to business and the intensity built again.

Nothing was ruined by the surprise turn of events. In fact, that moment is one of my favorite memories from that weekend because we were able to stay in the moment and appreciate it for what it was – FUNNY!

Sex has a tendency to be so serious and loaded and rife with expectation or guilt or fear. Fear that we aren’t good enough or skilled enough or sexy enough. But what keeping sex fun just meant lightening up a bit and laughing? Because when it comes right down to it – sex is pretty silly.

What scripts run through your head when you and your sweetie(s) are getting intimate?

Are you worried about how you’ll look? Are you concerned you aren’t going to enjoy it? Are you doing it out of some sense of obligation because you “should have sex x number of times per week/month/year”?

Talk about a libido killer.

All those “should” statements, all that self-talk keeping you swinging from past to future and back again. If there’s one thing I know for sure, it’s that pleasure and desire hate being smothered by expectation, and they don’t live anywhere except the present moment.

For some people, sex is a very intense and serious act nearly all of the time. For others, it’s playful and light and silly. I like to take a middle-of-the-road approach – setting intentions but allowing space for the spontaneous.

Because when two (or more) naked bodies are brought together, you never know what might happen next.

Farts, queefs, burps, bodily fluids, slips, unexpected aches, phone calls, kids – things happen (I almost said shit happens, but that could be taken multiple ways and is best left for a discussion on anal play).

So, I challenge you to invite a little laughter into the bedroom.

Let’s stop taking ourselves so seriously, release the expectations, kill the “should” statements, and surrender to what might unfold. Like a random Charlie Horse that needs to be rubbed out, or a sudden tickle in your nose that leads to a dozen sneezes, or the doorbell ringing at the worst possible moment. Laughter doesn’t have to mean the sex is over. It just means you’re acknowledging the moment, and then you decide where to go from there.

What’s a funny or unexpected moment that’s happened to you? What’s stopped you from laughing in the past?

[callout title=”Let’s chat” link=”https://www.dawnserra.com/lets-chat/” class=”hb-aligncenter”]Do you need help naming and facing your fear? Would you love to get unstuck, so that you can finally shed the burden you’ve been carrying? Whether it’s feelings of unworthiness or a struggling sex life (with yourself or with your partner), I can help you. [/callout]

2015: The year of surrender

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I’m the kind of person who has a tendency to get stuck in my head. It’s taken me a lot of work to learn how to savor the moment for exactly what it is.

Looking back, I started to realize just how much I’d missed out on by constantly thinking of all the things I have to do, all the places I want to go, chewing on what I could have done better and what I want to manifest in the future. These churning thoughts meant I was rarely enjoying the here and now.

And do you know where pleasure, bliss, and ecstasy live? In this moment. The one happening right now.

Not in the past. Not in the future. Pleasure exists in the present. Ecstasy pulses and blossoms as each breath unfolds.

But staying present, for all its simplicity, is far from easy, especially in our crazy go-go-go world. Even when I’m prioritizing pleasure for myself with a bubble bath or dancing or sex, it’s easy for my mind to wander.

Stress is addictive, anxiety is clingy, and expectation is pleasure’s worst enemy.

What totally transformed my experiences was learning the art of surrender.

Overwhelmed by stress? Take a deep breath and surrender to what cannot be changed.

Worried about how you look? Take a deep breath and surrender to who you are in this moment.

Trying to get out of your head during sex? Surrender to sensation, to touch, to your needs and desires.

When you surrender, there is no room for stress and anxiety. There is no space for doubt or shame or guilt. Surrendering requires you to open yourself up to the unknown and to trust that what comes next is exactly what is meant to happen. That means releasing expectations. When we’re free from expectation, we create space for pleasure to bubble up and take over.

Surrendering is not giving up. It is not passive. It is not weak. In fact, surrender takes tremendous courage and strength because we can only truly surrender when we feel safe enough to let go.

So, I’m declaring 2015 the year of surrender. I will be focusing on all of the ways you can surrender in order to reconnect with your erotic self, your sensual side, your confidence, your needs, your lover(s), and most importantly, with yourself.

This year we will surrender to the art of receiving, to the art of giving, and to the art of living with passion.

This will be the year that you surrender to what is so that you can finally create space to breathe life into what can be: bliss, happiness, radical authenticity, ecstasy, and anything else your soul desires. It all starts with surrender.

What have you been resisting? What has been holding you back? What are you afraid of or hiding from?

And what does it look like when you finally surrender and release those things?

All you have to do is let go.

Being vulnerable: Moving towards fear

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I have a confession to make.

I’m scared. I’m scared of the death of the love that I have for my partner. I’m scared of putting myself out into the world and sharing my gifts. I’m scared of failure. I’m scared of a great many things.

Sometimes the fear feels like a cold fist curling in my stomach. Other times it reaches up and snatches my breath out of my chest. Or, it’s a slow tightening in my jaw that makes my ears hurt. My first instinct when I’m sitting in fear is to run away from the discomfort.

But I’m not a slave to my instincts, and what I’ve learned over and over again is that you are at your most courageous when you surrender to the fear and let it guide you towards your truth.

Fear, when we aren’t in truly imminent danger, is our body’s way of saying, “Oh crap. If I face that, things could change. If I go there, I might lose something. Or gain something. But there will be CHANGE. And I’ll be vulnerable. Which means I could get hurt, and I don’t want to get hurt. Nope. That icky, scary, open feeling is too much. I’m shutting down and avoiding the thing.”

And boom. Fear is suddenly manipulating your reality and everything becomes skewed. This is not your authentic self. This is not the story you want to live.

Brene Brown talks about wholehearted living. Basically, wholehearted living is an ongoing act of courage – the courage to be seen and heard and to believe yourself worthy of love and happiness.

For me, fear often comes up when I feel like I’m not worthy – of love, of success, and of being heard. Learning where my fear comes from makes it easier for me to face it and take it on, to move into it and through it.

Moving towards fear is never comfortable. It is never easy. But, the more you do it, the more you realize that you’ll come out the other side. Often the thing you fear most is far worse than the reality of what happens when you dig in, look fear in the eye, and charge at it.

What are you scared of right now?

You know what it is, even if you don’t want to admit it. Because naming it means acknowledging the thing you’ve been trying to hide from for days or weeks or months.

Are you scared you’ll never find meaningful love? Are you scared your partner isn’t a good fit? Are you scared your partner has fallen out of love with you? Are you scared that you aren’t enough?

Name your fear and shine a light on it so that you can examine it truthfully. When we let fear fester in the dark, it can trick us into believing things are much worse than they actually are. Fear can paint itself as a huge, insurmountable monster.

Fear is that gremlin in your head that keeps you paralyzed.

Because if we stay still enough, invisible enough, silent enough maybe that thing we fear won’t be true.

Maybe it will pass us by. We might even run away from it or try to control it out of desperation. But, this becomes a scene that we play out, over and over again. Fear always finds you, which is why you need to not only drag your fear out into the light, but you need to confront it and take your power back. Fear doesn’t get to dictate your life. You do. So what does that look like?

Let’s pretend your biggest fear is that your partner has fallen out of love with you. Imagine what that must feel like – that fear that someone you love might not want you any longer.

Fuck, that feels bad, doesn’t it? Those hopes and dreams you shared suddenly seem like they’re slipping out of your grasp. Maybe you start listing all the things that make you unlovable, as if this has become a self-fulfilling prophecy. Or maybe you start feeling angry at your partner. Your mind starts racing, searching for a reason, and maybe you start thinking they’re cheating on you. Depending on how you cope with fear, you’ll either withdraw inside of yourself in an attempt to insulate yourself from the scary truth or you’ll come out swinging, going on the offensive, trying to push away the pain by beating it to the punch.

What happens if you move into your fear instead of letting your fear dictate what comes next, all of which could be completely wrong because it’s based on lies your fear is telling you?

How do you even get started?

First, you have to acknowledge and sit with it for a minute. Yuck, right? I know. But the more you do this, the faster your truth will start to show up.

While you’re sitting in the yuck, you need to understand where your feelings are coming from and what you’re really afraid of. Being alone? Being rejected? Change? Getting hurt? The source of your fear might not be obvious at first, but if you listen to that thing you really don’t want to hear, that’s where it will be.

Then, get clear on why you feel this way. Has your partner seemed withdrawn? Has something changed? Or are things the same and this is about your own insecurity and unworthiness taking over?

Second, move towards your fear by directly addressing it. Sometimes this can happen entirely inside of yourself when you simply give yourself permission to feel your feelings, name them, and surrender so that they no longer hold you. Other times, it means having a conversation with someone in your life. In this example, it might mean saying some pretty vulnerable stuff to your partner.

“Can we talk? I’ve been feeling a lot of fear lately. I’m scared that you don’t want to be in a relationship with me any longer because I’ve felt alone lately for X, Y, Z reasons. What I need right now is either some reassurance from you or for us to dig in and take an honest look at us and whether this relationship is still serving us both. Is that something you would be willing to do for me?”

In that moment, your partner might immediately rush to reassure you that your fear has been completely misplaced. Or, you might end up having a conversation about how things really ARE falling apart at the seams.

But, now there’s no more guess work, there is no more wasted energy and inner conflict and sleepless nights. There are no more stomach aches based on “what if” or outbursts designed to hold your partner hostage. Because you are worthy of love and deserving of people who want to be with you. And by facing your fear and feeling icky for a while, you can start to heal and create something new.

Fear has always been a big, bright arrow screaming, “I know it seems like this is the wrong way to go because it feels so bad but that’s exactly why you should be coming over here!”

If you want a life full of love, desire, authenticity, honesty, trust, and joy, it means doing some scary-as-fuck work sometimes. It means taking leaps into the unknown at the moment when you can’t think of anything scarier in the world. Sometimes you’ll soar. Sometimes you’ll crash and burn. Either way, once you face your fear, you can move forward.

And isn’t that so much better than being stuck on the edge of that cliff, rocking back and forth belly-aching over what to do and when to do it and how you’ll do it and will you fly or will you plummet? That kind of thinking will drive you crazy and move you farther and farther away from your authentic self.

So, here I am, demonstrating that very thing. I’m sharing a part of myself with you, terrified it won’t be enough, but I’m doing it anyway. You’ll either love what I have to say and it will resonate. Or you’ll think it’s bullshit and leave. Either way, I am taking the leap so that I can move forward.

You deserve to move forward, too. Where is your fear? What have you been too scared to name? I challenge you to shine a light on it today and start taking your power back.

[callout title=”Let’s chat” link=”https://www.dawnserra.com/lets-chat/” class=”hb-aligncenter”]Do you need help naming and facing your fear? Would you love to get unstuck, so that you can finally shed the burden you’ve been carrying? I can help.[/callout]

What to do when you aren’t having sex as often as you’d like

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Call me old school, but I still manage my life on a paper calendar. Yeah, I put stuff in my Google calendar from time-to-time, like recurring events or professional meet ups. But for some reason, I get particular pleasure out of writing things down and seeing them on my wall.

My life at a glance.

If you’re like me, you’re busy. Insanely busy. And . – things like birthdays, anniversaries, doctor’s appointments, kids’ soccer games, vacations, work events, BBQs, prescription refills… The list goes on: so much to do, so little time.

If you need something to happen, then it needs to be scheduled, right?

Take another look at your calendar.

Where is the you-time? Date night? Play night? Sex? Are they scheduled among the three hundred other things you need to do this month?

No? Well, then how can you expect it to happen? When you aren’t having sex as often as you’d like, it’s probably because you aren’t prioritizing it or scheduling it.

Let’s talk about the myth of magical, spontaneous, perfect sex

Let’s not waste time. That myth? The one where you and your partner will magically find the “perfect” time to have amazing, mind-blowing sex amid the half folded laundry and unwashed dishes after working 9 hours and commuting for 2?

It’s total bullshit.

Is it possible? Yes. Is it likely? Not at all. Especially if you’re the kind of person that needs time to get out of your head and into body after a stressful day – springing sex on someone who is stressed is a surefire way to get shut down and shut out.

And yes, sometimes you and your partner will both be horny and ready and share a look across the table in the exact same moment, and 30 seconds later you’re bent over the sofa with partially ripped off clothes going for a fast, furious fuck. Those moments are hot, right? But are they happening as often as you’d like them to? Probably not.

Don’t fall into the mind trap that scheduling something takes the fun out of it, either. We schedule all sorts of fun activities. Game night with friends isn’t any less fun because you knew about it, planned for it, anticipated it, prepared for it, and showed up. Why would the same be true for date night or sex?

Because half the fun of a juicy, memorable erotic encounter is the anticipation. Use that to your advantage.

Here’s an example – you and your partner are both free next Thursday in the evening, so you block off 3-4 hours for some naked shenanigans. When you go to bed Wednesday night, you set your alarm for a few minutes earlier so that you can take some time to pamper yourself before work on Thursday – shave, trim, moisturize, set out a sexy outfit for later, meditate, work-out, whatever your routine is for feeling good.

Maybe, as you walk out the door, you leave a note for your partner to find when they wake up with a sexy little thought about what will unfold that evening.

Then, you spend the day sending naughty messages to each other talking about what you love and crave about each other, what you can’t wait to feel or do, what you want. Talk about hours and hours of foreplay, hours and hours of daydreaming and anticipating and getting yourself into a siren mindset!

By the time you make it home (or get to the hotel, or meet up in a secluding parking garage and get into the backseat of your car like teenagers), your sexy time is now full of charge and need and excitement.

Scheduling sex, granting yourselves permission to prioritize each other, gives you tons of time get those juices flowing and your fantasies stirring.

How yummy is that?

Self-care is sexy

Just like scheduling sex and date nights, you must schedule time for yourself. Do it without apology and without guilt. If you don’t take care of yourself, it won’t happen. It just won’t.

When you put yourself and your needs first, you are more capable of giving fully and with love to others. When you’re tired, stressed, overwhelmed, and totally checked out, you invite resentment, bitterness, frustration, and a whole host of other emotions that don’t help you or the people you love.

So, schedule that shit. Do it now.

What does your self-care look like?

Is it a bubble bath, a book, a glass of wine, and no distractions for two hours? Is it a massage at a lovely day spa where no one can reach you? Is it an all-day hike on your own? Maybe it’s a night out with friends or a mini yoga retreat. Is it an hour on the weekend to yourself to dance naked and masturbate to a glorious orgasm? It might even be finding a half hour a few times a week to drive down a country road with some great music and the wind in your hair.

Is your schedule too busy for you time? Then MAKE time. As a friend to watch the kids for a few hours twice per month. Have your spouse pick up dinner one night per week to save you the time of having to cook. Go into work an hour early and buy yourself an extra hour free in the afternoon before you head home.

If it’s important, you can find the time to prioritize the stuff that needs to happen.

But it MUST go on the calendar. Commit to that time, and do not cancel it or push it back – because that’s oh-so-tempting when things are busy.

You deserve that time to rest, reconnect, recharge, and find your bliss.

Re-introducing play time. For grown-ups.

If you know of Brene Brown’s work on vulnerability and the guideposts for wholehearted living, then you know one of the single most important elements of living a whole, happy life is finding time to play.

What did you and your partner love doing when you first met? Was it a cheesy movie followed by milkshakes? Bowling badly? Going to comedy shows?

It’s important to make time for those kinds of activities to keep that spark and maintain that sense of joy at sharing something fun together.

For some people, play time is going to kinky clubs or swinger parties. For others, it’s hosting a themed party and getting dressed up in ridiculous costumes. Maybe it’s going to a sports game and getting loud and rowdy with 20,000 other fans.

Whether you’re 22 or 82, maintaining that sense of adventure and play is what keeps a relationship young. It’s important to keep that connection between you and partner strong and healthy.

And if it’s important, it needs to be on your schedule.

Ready to get started? Just click below and I’ll email you a free handy-dandy planner.

Saying what you want in bed

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A few months ago, I had the pleasure of writing a delicious post for Gina Senarighi’s website Amplify Happiness Now.

Check out the post by clicking here.

The article includes tips for safely exploring kinkier fantasies, as well as sample scripts for how to talk to your lover about these juicy scenes. Because it’s all about finding a fun and safe way to say what you want in bed, right?

I highly encourage you to pop over to Gina’s website. She is an incredible therapist based out of Portland, Oregon and her blog is full of wonderful information for couples looking to strengthen their relationships.

After you check out the article, comment below and let me know what you think.

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