In late March my husband and I spent our first anniversary in Punta Cana with a group of friends. We swam, ate, drank, laughed and basked in the sun. It was a total escape from responsibilities and felt deeply restorative. This kind of luxury is still new to me, I grew up poor, we got by, but we certainly didn't go on vacations. The first time I left the country was last March when my husband and I eloped in Mexico. So being in paradise feels like such a gift, one that I don't take for granted.
One of our mornings, James and I were sitting in a cabana at the beach, enjoying the moment. The white sand, crystal blue ocean, and warm breeze teasing our slightly sun burned skin kept me so present to the moment. Then I saw something that has stuck with me, even after these weeks. There were beach beds for rent close by and a group of girls had started setting up. There were four of them and each one was more perfect than the last. Long, flowy, meticulously styled hair, toned and tanned tall bodies with impossibly perky breasts. Immaculately dressed and styled. They caught my eye, as they would anyone that passed. I am not threatened by beautiful women. I have spent so many years coming to a place of deep love and acceptance for my body, which allows me to celebrate feminine beauty in all in forms. But there was just something about this group that felt off.
They started unpacking their bags, which contained multiple accessories, outfits, and props. Soon they began snapping picture of each other, but not in a 'let's take pics of our friends' kind of way, it was a photo shoot without a photographer or a real camera. They started changing bathing suits, adding accessories. It clicked, they were "Instagramers" self-made models, with potentially huge following, selling this "idea" of perfection with the illusion of ease. (I later confirmed this thought when I saw their tags to the resort we were at) According to them, they were just hanging at the beach with girlfriends enjoying the sun and the sea. But the real problem is, that wasn't true. The thing about an advertisement is that we know we are being sold to. As a young girl I would pick up a magazine and gaze at the beautiful pictures of beautiful women and wish I could look like they did. But on some level, we all knew that it was a photoshoot, it wasn't real. But this, this was being sold as reality, which makes it even more dangerous for all of us comparing our lives to these images.
I was surprised at the surge of emotions I felt laying on the beach that day. The torrent of conflicting thoughts spun around in my head. I knew some small part of me envied her, because society has taught me that well. Her perfect body, flawless skin, silky hair in casual waves were the ideals of beauty. I knew I hated her a little, for selling lies, for passing something deeply planned and calculated as a casual day at the beach. And I knew I pitied her because she's missing all of this trying to get the perfect shot. The phone clicks again and again, "no not that one, try again, more like this, I want to LOOK like I'm having the best time". I wanted to shake her and say look around, at this beautiful beach, this beautiful day, this beautiful life. YOUR ONE LIFE. She is just as much a pawn in this game, whether she knows it or not. And I wonder if her 400,000 followers are not enough to make her feel whole.
How is it possible that we got here? That our worth is so wrapped up in other people's perceptions of us that we sell lies as reality. I want to be perfectly transparent here. I do not have a problem with makeup, fashion, perfect hair, Instagram filters, and manicuring yourself to look a certain way. I absolutely love getting dressed up, wearing makeup, and flattering clothes. Many of you know I love to rock a red lip for absolutely no reason at all. It is fun and can be such a wonderful expression of your spirit. The ONLY thing I have a problem with, is selling that as effortless reality, when it is not.
In the weeks that have followed, I have felt even more empowered and committed to my message of authenticity. I'm raising a daughter and a son in this sometimes fucked up world, with these absolutely impossible standards of life. So I have to be strong, not just for me, but for them. I want things to be different. I want more of us to feel whole all on our own. I talk about authenticity so much because it is the antidote for these illusions. Be you. Unapologetically. Be brave enough to love yourself exactly as you are. And please, LIVE YOUR LIFE. This is it. The collection of small moments and big moments. The way we choose to speak to one another, the way we speak to ourselves, how we choose to fill our time, this is it. I urge you not to miss it.
I lived most of my life on the edge of happy. I was so close I often convinced myself I really was happy. The real problem with "almost happy" though is the fall to unhappy is really just a tiny jump. So little things, like not being able to find my keys, spilling coffee on myself on the way out the door, my kid throwing an epic tantrum in the grocery story, or my husband leaving dirty dishes in the living room would bring on my rage monster. I never knew exactly when the rage monster would appear, but inevitably she would come storming down the door ready to kick ass and take names at the drop of a hat. It took me a lot of therapy, meditation, journaling and self-awareness to realize that this rage monster was not a defeat of character, she was trying to help wake me up.
It was during the Great Shakedown of 2015, as everything about my almost happy life crumbled around me, that I finally said hello to my rage monster. For those that don’t know, this is how I refer to the 9 months of my life when my husband came out as transgender, we filed for divorce, and I moved back to New England from Florida and became a single mom). So with nothing more to lose, I asked her, rage monster, what she wanted, expecting the worst, and she quietly said I want you to be happy. What a shock. This part of myself that I absolutely hated just wanted me to be happy.
In the months that followed, I really dissected my life and my choices, I realized that all that had happened did not happen to me but because of me. I am not saying I took full responsibility in a self-deprecating way, what I am saying is I had the realization that the way I had been living my life as “almost happy” had allowed me to wander so far from my truth. I had not been living my authentic life. I was allowing myself to be swayed and pulled by what I thought I should want, what others wanted for me, and what made the people around me happiest. I was a catalyst for everyone’s happiness but my own.
So I rebooted my life, I got an apartment for myself and my children. I decorated it EXACTLY the way I wanted. I cooked the foods I wanted to eat while dancing in my kitchen to the music I loved. I started reading Tarot Cards again, moving them from their storage box to be proudly displayed for anyone to see. I connected with other women I admired; I shared my pain with them and celebrated the joy of reconnecting with myself. I remember one of my best friends, who was also single at the time, sharing that she loved to eat rotisserie chicken and drink champagne in her undies. I fucking love that. I made a promise to myself that when I did start dating again, I would never hide my true inner weirdo.
I started living my authentic life and found what I had been missing. Happiness, real, true, honest happiness. Things were not perfect, they were far from it, I was learning how to stand on my own two feet, I was financial overwhelmed, exhausted from raising a 3 and 5 year old alone, and still nursing a broken heart. But I knew that what I was creating was real and no one would be able to take that away again.
Then the most amazing thing happened, by being my true, weird, unique, awesome self, I attracted a unique, weird, awesome human into my life that not only accepted those parts of me, but absolutely loved them. We don’t share all the same passions, he jumps out of planes, I follow the cycles of the moon and do Tarot Readings, but we honor and love those parts of each other. When I told him I was going to put an alter honoring the Goddess in the corner of our bedroom he simply smiled and said jokingly, just don’t put a hex on me if I forget to wash the dishes ok? Ok, no hexes I promised.
This is what happens when we truly honor who we are, we attract the people into our lives that completely resonate and love us. Not a quieter us, or a neater us, not thinner, or more normal, but just as we are. I am free to be me because I did the work to really fall in love with myself. I stopped caring so much what other people thought about my path. When shit goes down in my life, and it still does, I no longer worry that the rage monster is going to bust out of me. I am whole and really fucking happy.
We are busy. All of us. Our minds are consumed with thoughts and to-do list, all vying for precious attention. We live in the world of having it all, we want the careers, the families, the passionate relationship, the meaningful friendships, the house, the money to travel, all of it. And really there’s nothing wrong with that, except sometimes our lives can feel like they are spiraling out of control. There’s a downside to having it all, a big one. When we fill our time and energy with so much, we lose the ability to just be. You see, something amazing happens when we can just be in our own company, without expectation. Most of us don’t have this time built into our lives.
So what happens when we make our relationship to self as important a priority?
Freedom, freedom from other’s expectations of what is right and wrong for you. When your internal compass is strong, decisions about what matters to you become easier to see. I would argue that some, if not a lot, of what we busy ourselves with, does not actually matter us. Without knowing it, we take on other’s picture of how our lives should look. It can be as simple as following clothing and food trends and as complicated as the decision to have children. What other’s think and feel about our lives has an effect on us. It’s fairly easy to tell when you are living your life through other’s expectations; you may feel frustrated often, overwhelmed, underappreciated, confused and resentful. These emotions are your minds way of telling you something is off.
The best way to break this pattern is to connect with your heart. The idea of self-love is often associated with things like bubble baths and affirmations, and while those can be great expressions of self-love, sometimes it’s about tearing down your own walls. It’s about getting really honest with yourself so that you can live the most authentic version of your life. It’s about setting boundaries with others and establishing space for you.
Sometimes we get to a place where we’re not even sure what we want. We are so disconnected from ourselves that we can’t even differentiate what we want from what others want for us. That’s ok. It’s a process, it’s about taking one step at a time until you find yourself on solid ground.
This Friday night I’m hosting one of my absolute favorite workshops, it’s called Set Free Your Inner Goddess. This workshop gives you the space and tools to establish this honest relationship with yourself. During the two hours together we look at how self-love, compassion, and sexual empowerment connect us to the source of our power, our creative energy, and our center. It’s a time for women to come together in support of each other’s individuality without judgment or expectation. If you are ready to begin, or perhaps continue, your exploration of inner-self, please join us. Friday March 9th 7-9pm at Metta Studios in Biddeford, ME. Pre-registration required, sign up here.
No one group needs a sexual jump start more than the parents of young children. It is like the Sahara Dessert for many of us and there are about 1,000 reasons why. Let’s be clear, there is nothing sexy about parenthood. You’re exhausted, touched out, everything is covered in an uncertain stickiness, for women their bodies and hormones may be unfamiliar, and on daily basis you are catering to the needs of an egomaniac (developmentally justified, but still). It’s not sexy, it’s not cute and I totally get why many parents just fall into bed at the end of the night, too exhausted for conversation, let alone physical intimacy. While it is completely justified, basically shutting down your sexuality for an extended period of time is not beneficial for your marriage, or your overall well-being.
While I’ve mentioned some of the reasons why sex is off the table, let’s look at why we should put it back on. During a session of love making, your body releases all sorts of “feel good” chemicals, such as Oxytocin, which naturally reduces stress and anxiety in your body, as well as Endorphins which act as natural pain-killers. Studies show sex boosts your immune system, which is a total bonus because kids are known for being quite germy and parents don’t have time for illness. Amazingly, sex, especially good sex, actually boosts your libido. The more you do it, the more you want it. I’m also just going to say it, sex totally counts as exercise. I’m a busy parent, so I’m all for multi-tasking in this way. Now all these reasons I’ve mentioned are pretty much directed at the individual, what about the marriage or partnership, how does that benefit?
It's hard to be mad at someone that just gave you an orgasm. If your partner is annoying you, you know the times when everything they do and say irks you just a little, you need to be having more sex. When physical intimacy and sexual satisfaction is a regular part of your relationship, all those little things that bother you, don’t seem like such a big deal. Sex is a way to show your partner you appreciate them. It’s a large part of what differentiates your marriage/partnership from the other relationships in your life. Most likely, chemistry is a part of what drew you to that person in the first place and reconnecting with that passion can teleport you back to those early days. When you are intimate with your partner, you have the opportunity to block out everything else, to forget for a little while that you’re parents, and enjoy the sensations.
Alright, so how? I’ve sold you on the benefits, both personal and for your relationship, so let’s make this happen. I’m going to make a list because I know you’re tired and I want to give you something concrete to grab onto.
After I started writing this blog I realized I could write a whole book on the topic! I feel so strongly about the importance passion in long term relationships. There are many reasons why partners sometimes move away from shared intimacy with one another. Concerns of uneven desire, miscommunication, or sexual boredom can cause once passionate lovers to withdraw from one another. It is my experience that with a little creativity and a healthy dose of communication, even the most sexless of relationships can regain a major sexual boost.
If you are experiences specifics concerns in your relationship consider a one on one coaching session or look into my new self-guided program Awakening Your Sexuality
We are constantly reminded of the expectation for perfection from our modern culture. We are supposed to effortlessly balance our varied responsibilities and look flawless in the process. While many of us are aware of the unrealistic beauty ideals present in media, what's of more concern to me is the constant striving for perfection from social media. These aren't magazine prints and the only thing we are selling is the illusion of perfection, but man do we hustle for it.
In this Vlog I point out how this search for perfection may be damaging our relationships and our self-esteem. Why don't we drop this constant striving for perfection and be more real. More ourselves, more messy, and open ourselves to the beauty that may bring.
Yesterday I posted this photo on my Instagram account and discussed the importance of pausing to check in with our truth and our heart before reacting out of anger or sadness in a relationship. I want to elaborate on this concept.
I have heard, and even said at a different time in my life, I always end up with the same person. I felt like things are different, they looked different, and yet at the root of it the same dysfunctions existed in my current relationship as all my past ones. When this does come up, the only thing to do is look at the common denominator in all those relationships. You. It can be a tough pill to swallow because from your perspective you are the one showing up for the relationships. You are the one putting in the effort, anticipating needs, and being the all around decent human being. Yes, and yet there is some wound inside of you that keeps attracting that same person. That keeps the patterns in place long after they stop working. I say this from a place of complete love because I've been there, oh have I been there. I have had to work hard to not infuse my old pain into my current relationship, with a man who is in fact nothing like anyone I've even been with.
Perhaps your old wound is that you are unlovable, and so you attract a partner incapable of loving you due to their own wounds or circumstances. Or maybe you've always been the caretaker and so you attract a partner who needs to be cared for. Initially we may think we can change the person unable to love or we may feel a sense of value in being needed as a caretaker. Yet, as time moves on, resentments grow. It is never wise to enter into a relationship expecting to change someone.
Which brings me back to my original thought. How often we blame our partners for our own experiences. We react to them as the unloved child, the nurse maid, the wounded individual rather than as a partner. Even in a high functional relationship with a person who is a good match for us, we can still slip into our old patterns. Resentments can fester without consistent self-inspection, communication, and honesty.
Through inner work we are able to identify our old wounds and patterns, through honesty with ourselves and our partners we are able to move past them. There is a freedom in recognizing how much power you have when you realize you are only in control of yourself.
Even the word shame elicits a reaction in my body. I can feel a spiraling heat in my belly, I am reminded of times when I felt ashamed, when I was shamed for my thoughts or actions. Shame is a powerful motivator; it motivates both action and inaction. It can live inside us and alter our perception of ourselves, tearing us down, telling us we do not deserve love and connection. Many sexual blocks, concerns, and overall dissatisfaction stem from shame.
There are numerous ways sexuality is shamed. Truthfully, nearly everything regarding sexuality can and has been shamed. If you choose not to engage sexually, someone may call you a prude. Too much confidence in your sexuality, someone may call you a whore. Often those dishing out the shame have been shamed themselves, perhaps as a child exploring their own body or as an adult unsure and stumbling through early sexual interactions. Thus a shame cycle is created, shame experiences created more shame experiences.
Even worse though, than being shamed is to allow that shame to become our reality. Internalizing shame about our sexuality creates insecurity; the wiliness to explore and express ourselves becomes limited. Brene Brown, brilliant authority on shame and vulnerability, says this about shame “the less you talk about it, the more you have it” (watch her full TedTalk here). It is through the silent festering of shame that we lose ourselves, forget our primitive right to enjoy pleasure, and pull away from intimacy and connection with others. So how do we stop it?
We share. We talk about sex. The brilliant and joyful experiences, as well as the times when we experienced shame. The times when things went all wrong, when people called us names, when we thought “I am bad”, we share and we connect and then we release. We release the obligation to carry that shame around and step into our messy perfection. We release the idea that in order to experience bliss and pleasure that we have to fit into this impossible image of what we think that looks like.
This is why I’m here. This is why I’m talking about sex. I have felt the slow burn of sexual shame first hand and I know the freedom of its release. I now know the joy of feeling totally and completely worthy of love. I want that for you too.
What separates good sex from great sex?
Confidence and comfortability. It’s really that simple. The more confident and comfortable you are with yourself and then also with you partner, the better sex is going to be. Nothing is more distracting during sex than worrying about what your body looks like, smells like, and sounds like. When you are worrying about these things you are essentially shutting down your body from experiencing higher levels of pleasure and also shutting down an opportunity for connection with your partner.
The social expectations of what sexy looks like are hard to overcome. We are presented with this very linear idea of what sexy should be. Media makes us believe that in order to be sexually desired we must adhere to a certain set of rules. Not true. Here’s the thing, sexy starts inside and then shines out of us. The focus of sex should be pleasure and connection. Unless you are in the adult entertainment industry, no one cares what you look like during it!
Great sex is messy! Most bodies look a little strange in certain positions, so if you look odd but it feels good keep going! Hair gets messy, bodies get sweaty. Also, strange noises are a total normal (and in my opinion delightfully hysterical) part of sex. To me a big old body fart in the middle of a really sexy moment is a great opportunity to laugh! Laughing during sex can lighten the mood by reminding us about amusement. Sex is fun, it combines physical pleasure, emotional intimacy and an opportunity for amusement. So the next time you have the opportunity to get frisky, I want you to act like the sex god or goddess that you are and see how that changes the experience!
This past year has been full of opportunities for bravery for me. I have stepped outside my comfort zone time and time again, leapt into unknowns, and traveled through such magnitude of emotions. Through all of this I have developed a deeper sense of personal trust in the unique path of my life. No, things have not gone the way I planned, far from it in fact. And yet, I can see now how perfectly imperfect it has been.
I remember leaving Florida almost a year ago now. My kids in the backseat, my car loaded high, and my ex-spouse in the rear view mirror, that moment both tore me apart and set me free. What I didn’t realize at the time was I was leaving behind my unhealthy habits of people pleasing. Up until that point, I teetered on the line of normal and unique, wanting to fit in, check off the traditional ideas we are all spoon fed throughout our lives. I cared deeply what other’s thought of me, even if I managed to conceal that on the surface. So when my “perfect” family dissolved, my spouse came out as transgender, and I moved home I made a pact that I would never exist for anyone’s approval again. I love making people happy, it’s in my nature, but I am now unwilling to do so at the expense of myself.
The pure bliss of decorating my own apartment is hard to articulate. I bought most of my furnishings second hand, I filled the walls with unique artwork, mixed patterns and textures, I made it my home. I looked forward to the solitude of sleeping alone during that time I was healing. Everywhere I looked I saw me and I liked what I saw. So when I was ready to venture out in romance again, I did so with my whole heart intact. I found that loving myself was the most solid foundation I could possibly have in a relationship. It’s amazing what you can build with someone, what you can experience, when you are willing to be completely yourself with your partner.
With an exquisite love relationship peculating, my home life steady and joyful, I thought perhaps the call for change had been satisfied for a while. But as it has been with most leaps of faith, I found myself being pulled in a direction I hadn’t thought too much about. The past year I’ve had the honor of working with a collaboration of women called Daring Spirits. What they are doing with meditation is a serious game changer and essentially what I owe my peace of mind to. With their support, I developed my passion for Sexuality & Relationship Coaching and found my wings. It’s been a beautiful working relationships built on a foundation of strong friendship. Yet, in my head came at first the whisper, which then grew into a roar, “it is time to spread your wings”. What choice did I have but to listen?
So this leap is into the awakening of my own coaching business, built on that same foundation of love, courage, and truth that I have rebuilt my life. Just like all the times of great changes, I am filled with a sense of excitement and anticipation at how this will all unfold, but now it is easier to trust in the uncertainty. Thank you for being here, for taking an interest in my journey. It is my hope that you can see some reflection to yours, and that my bravery inspires your own bravery.
Sometimes we act like love is this mysterious, all-encompassing force that lies out of our control. When we fall in love romantically it can feel this way. It can feel like we’re spinning in circles and the only constant is the fiery desire we feel for that other person. More often than not though, that intense feeling burns out, leaving us disappointed and confused. “Is love up to its old tricks again? Disappearing on us just when we thought we finally caught it?”
Yes and no. If you believe love exists only outside of you, you will always be chasing it and it will always remain just slightly out of reach. However, if you come to realize how deeply love exists inside of each of you, you will never go a day without it. It’s easy to love our lives and love ourselves when things are going well. When we are at the ideal weight, have the ideal job, the perfect balance of fun in our lives, those are the moments it’s easy to be in love. And yet choosing love when things aren’t going the way we might like, that’s the real choice.
When you think of the qualities you’d want and expect in a partner, would you want someone who only loves you at your highest? Yet, isn’t this how many of us approach self-love? If your self-love is conditional, you are telling yourself you are only worthy of love when you’ve met certain criteria.
This is why I say love is a choice. We wake up every day and have a choice, the choice to love and accept ourselves for our perfect imperfections or the choice not to. Choosing love seems like the obvious option and yet it may not be as easy as it sounds, especially if you’ve spent years not choosing to love yourself.
So where do you start? How do you fall back in love with yourself or perhaps fall in love for the first time? Get to know yourself, romance yourself. What’s your favorite flower? Buy it and proudly display it on your counter. Ask yourself the questions you want to know. What is a cherished childhood memory? If you could go anywhere, where would you go and what would you do while you were there? It might sound silly, but love doesn’t appear out of thin air, not the kind that lasts forever. It’s built through a series of thoughtful exchanges. Romance yourself, choose love, and your heart will always be full.
This blog first appeared on Daring Spirits Blog February 2017
Read. Relate. Repeat.
My hope is through my words, through my own experiences, you will relate to some piece of my story. Some desire that I've shared or insecurity I've admitted to will also belong to you. My words are my truth, but they may also be yours.