The brimming, opening. The noticing, the deep need, a voracious black hole of yearning.
Too many of us are living in fear of our desires.
Instead, we are walking around the world, disconnected from ourselves. We are moving through our daily lives without pausing to notice feeling of fabric on our skin or the silky taste of our first cup of coffee. We have severed ourselves from actively embodying our skins.
Perhaps it has been painful for you to do so.
Perhaps the sheer noticing of the pinch of your bra against your back or the absence of a lovers hand linked in yours propels you directly to this place – to the place where disconnection is the only way out of feeling the failure of have not tended to your needs. Perhaps it feels easier to cut and run – to push the pain to the back of your brain where it can’t find you.
Today, I want to propose something kinder.
No matter where you are in your life right now, you can choose to live differently. You can invoke pleasure into your daily existence. You are not: too far gone, too old, to destructive, to burdened by your history. If you are ready, your life (your real life – the one deeply grounded in ease and joy) is waiting to unfurl before you.
Moments of Disconnect
I remember feeling as though I was a talking head. As if, from the neck up, I was pulled together because it was the only thing I could manage. Apply the eye shadow. Pile the hair up artistically. Smile. Laugh. All the while, barely noticing that my body wasn’t even present for the conversation, that I had locked it away somewhere because of it’s repeated failure to adhere to the beauty standards I was strictly trying to enforce. It had displeased me and the only option was to banish it from my consciousness.
I remember wishing I could run away from my partner, because the mere act of sitting in front of her with all of our shared vulnerabilities and history between us felt impossible. That I couldn’t bridge the gap of all that had happened, and, thus, couldn’t bare the thought of reaching across the table to hold her hand, an act that had once come easily, naturally.
I remember eating my food quickly. Piling my fork sky high the minute the last bite had passed my lips. The uncomfortable knowing that I had consumed the whole bag while my mind had been lingering elsewhere. I remember the numb that lasted only a moment before quickly melting into shame.. and guilt.
The path home to yourself, to your body, and to your burgeoning yearning – the epicenter of sexuality and creativity – is paved by noticing the spaces in between. It is about slowing yourself down enough to be present in this moment.
One bite. One kiss. One pleasurable feeling.
Begin to notice the things that catch your attention or feed your hunger for pleasure by tapping into using your five senses. When we are striving to reconnect with our sensual and sexual energy, it is significantly useful to take the time to explore and experiment with the prospect of encountering experiences that light us up, turn us on, or make us feel amazing as we are moving about our daily lives.
Women who feel very far away from living in their bodies often feel afraid of opening this door, imaging that it is the closet that they’ve been tucking everything into for years and that, if opened, they will be buried beneath the avalanche of forgotten and cast-aside possessions.
But your homecoming isn’t about going straight for the jugular. It isn’t about careening from this spot into a place of extreme and utter self-love. It will not topple you completely, but instead blossom before you, inviting you in one step further when you are ready.
It is about taking that one step, and then the next.
It is about succumbing to the spectrum of sensuality. The full breadth of living and seeking out the things that delight us.
The taste of homemade raspberry jam. The crooning of your favorite song. The notes of grapefruit in your favorite dish detergent. The silken touch of freshly washed sheets. The satin sheen of moisturizer on your skin. The smile when your eyes catch your favorite painting. The hand over your heart on the edge of sleep. The delight of witnessing a flower bloom.
You do not have to run the path back to yourself, panting and dizzy with undue effort.
This is not a race.
Instead, it is a sacred journey, a promise to yourself.
Sensuality is a spectrum, a path laid out before spanning the safe, cautious delights and the earth-shattering moments of bliss. We can choose to step on the path exactly where we are in this moment, and simply begin walking there, treading the territory home to our sweet hearts and our unattended to bodies.
Begin where you are, today. Carve out spaces for pleasure through engaging your senses. Allow that delight to blossom deep in your belly, opening you up to the possibility that your body was built for this – for pleasure, for sensual living, and for joy.
In Her Skin: A Weekend Workshop about Pleasure and the Rise of Your Sexual Self
August 2 + 3, 2014 at The Loft in Pawtucket, RI
Join us, Hannah Marcotti and Mara Glatzel, for two days of conversation, visioning, and truth-telling. We will spend the weekend surrendering to our sexual, feminine natures – stoking our internal fires and cultivating the language of our intentions and awakenings. Together, we will be openly talking about the parts of our lives (and bodies) that we so often leave out of polite conversation, the parts that are sacred and gorgeous and deep and raw.
This time is about your sexual self, the part of yourself that you are longing to connect with and share, while discovering it is also about your life-force energy – your creativity, the way that you care for your body, and immersing your daily life in sensuality.
Note from Marzipan: I am so excited for this post, because it was written my very own sweetheart – Cookie, professional underdog, as a part of the Teen Week: Words That Heal series. Want to participate? Check out the details here.
I remember passing notes in the library in Jr. High. Every one did it.
Do you like me?
Check box yes or no.
Will you be my boyfriend?
Check box yes or no.
It seemed so easy. One little slip of paper. If said boxes were checked yes, you were in. Validated, cool, wanted. Even if the boxes were checked yes for the wrong reasons. As long as you hand that confirmed slip of paper you had a hand to hold. Even if the “romance” only lasted until the recess bell filled the halls at least you could say, “oh who? Jeff? Yeah, we used to go out…” The whispers – gossip traveled like wild fire.
Did you hear? Jeff and Michelle broke up? You should ask him out.
A social structure that feeds on the weak and fulfills the shallow. The insecure. A structure that sets us up for adulthood that at the time seems like it’s going to be so different.
There’s so much to feel insecure about in these formulating years – acne, boobs, kissing, boners, math tests, reading out loud, braces, jv vs. varsity, fitness tests, back to school shopping, cliques, bff’s, and then there is the locker room.
The gender segregated smelly, stuffy, sticky locker room where girls are supposed to feel safe because they all have the same thing in common, they are girls. Safe to lock away their clothes, secrets, and insecurities in a nice little metal locker with a combination and number on it. Perhaps the first time ever for these girls, a locked box to call their own that no one else can look in to.
Safe to walk around naked, half naked, showcasing their new bodies, their changing bodies. Gossiping freely about boys, and how much their parents suck, and how easy that stupid math test was.
That math test you failed. Those boyfriends you don’t have. Those tampons seemingly you’ll never need because you’re a late bloomer not to mention the bra you will never fill. Avoiding eye contact with the popular girls so as not to be picked on, bullied, made fun of. Blending in to the lockers not to be noticed.
Taking the path of least resistance. Waiting for the moment when they all leave the room and you can stop pretending to have forgotten your locker combination. You too can disrobe without fear of eyes on you. You too can fantasize about all the lips you dream of kissing without the careless, catty chatter, without the debilitating fear that someone will hear the voices in your head that wonder what it would be like to kiss a girl.
To wonder that if you gave Michelle a note that said, “Do you like me?” if she would check the box yes.
Other Teen Week Posts Up Today:
Diet Schmiet, A Letter From 16 Year-Old Me [Part One]
This post was written by Alice Oates as a part of the Teen Week: Words That Heal series. Want to participate? Check out the details here.
I’ve now reached that very strange point that everyone must reach where next birthday I will not be a teenager anymore. It has its own terrifying connotations of being all adult and responsible, as well as that tiny little bit of relief that I will soon leave the spectre of teenage pregnancy behind. I also get to escape a group that’s generally stereotyped as a whole lot of things that I’m just not.
Reaching the end of my teens in the relatively new environment of university is giving me great opportunities to look back on the last 7 or so years and pretty much be amazed at how I’ve changed in that time. At age 13 I had no confidence. Not only that but no one had ever really explained ‘fake it ‘til you make it’ to me so my lack of self-confidence seriously showed. I’d started secondary school with someone I thought was my best friend but who decided I wasn’t interesting within a matter of months. And told me that in almost exactly those words. To be left friendless in the first year of a new school is absolutely terrifying and I went through a series of unstable friendships and sort-of relationships that did absolutely nothing to give me any sense of self-confidence or even of who I wanted to be.
The thing about not really knowing what you want is that you look to everyone else to tell you what’s right. I was absolutely desperate for friends and family to approve of everything I did, and as a teenager what your family want and what your friends want aren’t always compatible. Peer pressure is hell for young teens that want to do what their parents approve of but risk name-calling because of it. I haven’t quite got over it yet, but there’s a little voice in the back of my head that goes ‘you don’t have to be like them if you don’t want to’ if I’m being irrational about it. But for a long time I was around people who called me stupid/pathetic/silly and all manner of lovely things if I wasn’t doing things the way they thought they should be done. I went through a really long phase of copying a friend’s handwriting because I thought it made me cool. Now I can look back and say that staying myself and not giving in to peer pressure was a good thing, but at the time it made me feel like a complete loser.
Burned into my mind is the memory of one of my friends telling me he’d overheard the guy I’d just asked out saying he would never go out with someone ‘like her’. He in no way was being malicious when he told me, but I’ve never quite recovered from the shame and the worrying about what exactly someone like me was. Sometimes a bit of soul-searching is good. Constant self-analysis to work out what’s wrong with you is definitely not. Part of the problem is that views on what’s ‘cool’ change ridiculously fast at a young age so it’s hard to keep up. My sister recently started secondary school and summed it up neatly; ‘no one plays anymore they just stand around talking about phones. It’s really boring’.
In the last few years I’ve started to come out of my shell and stop worrying so much about being the person everyone approves of. There have been a few big triggers to this. First, I met the guy who is now my boyfriend of over four years. He’s been someone who has loved me unconditionally and shown me that I am worth something as me not as a copy of someone else. He’s given me a platform from which to jump off into the, sometimes scary, world of loving yourself and being confident. Second, I developed depression and anxiety problems. Understanding this made me really look at the way I responded to other people and how they treated me, so that I could say ‘no that’s not acceptable’ or ‘this isn’t good for me’ and get out of there. Leaving school was so important for me because it took me away from all the toxic ‘friendships’ that made me feel awful every single day and into a place where I could tackle my own self-confidence, surrounded by people who were just nice, supportive people who wouldn’t make me feel worthless. I’ve also had a period of questioning my sexuality and that’s taken a bit of a chunk out of my self-confidence because I’ve been forced to re-evaluate how much of me is still just a response to the people around me.
It’s very difficult to explore your sexuality in a straight, monogamous relationship that you have no intention of leaving. I’ve started to question whether the way I see other women just comes, firstly, from evaluating their attractiveness in relation to me (normal conclusion being I lose, obviously not very healthy!), and secondly from looking at the world from the perspective of all the guys I hang out with. If I stopped mentally competing with women and stopped sub-consciously trying to fit in, would I give a second thought to how attractive they are?
Some of the biggest changes of teen years are physical. When your body changes it takes a long time to feel comfortable with it and I didn’t really have a very healthy relationship with my body. I’ve always had a big appetite but when I stopped growing and became less active as I got older, I started to fill out. I’m not what people describe as ‘big’ but that’s never been the issue. It doesn’t matter how people see you if you don’t have a positive self-image. I’m only just starting to understand what it means to love your body, and it doesn’t mean being the skinniest girl around. I’ve got Mara and Medicinal Marzipan to thank for that! I love writing blog posts like this because the process of writing can help you understand a lot about yourself that you don’t really realize until you try to put it into words. I still have days where I look in the mirror and tell myself I’m fat, I’m a failure and no one likes me. But I also have days where I don’t think that at all, and that’s definitely progress.
The most important thing for me is that I can look back on my teenage years with compassion and understanding. If I just block them out or blame myself for things really not my fault, I’m never going to be able to move on to a healthier place. From 13 to 19 you change so much that you are never going to get everything right. I hope that I can really learn from my experiences and one day help my own teenager through those very scary years without getting lost along the way. I’ve learned that it’s okay to say that you can’t do it alone. It doesn’t make you any weaker to admit that. I’m not less of a person because I need my boyfriend so much, I’m just different to people who manage just fine by themselves. I like to say that understanding is the key to change, and I don’t think this applies to anything more than it does to being a teenager.
My name is Alice Oates and I’m a 19 year old student at Cambridge University. I’ve been with my boyfriend over four years now, and for most of that have suffered with low body image, depression and anxiety. With his help and other sources like Medicinal Marzipan I’m beginning to understand what makes me the way I am which I believe is the key to changing the parts that make me unhappy. Understanding and accepting yourself is the key to change and that has been my motto for a while now. I’m doing my best to be in tune with my body and work out what I need and I think that it’s going to make a big difference in the end!
You know me, I love a good uproar on the internetz, and I know that YOU love it when I throw in my two cents at least two weeks two late – just to let the dust settle a little bit. Just kidding, I live under a rock and I only today got around to reading Erica Jong’s New York Times Op-Ed about how the “new generation of women” are just just not that into having sex.
I immediately balked: First of all, am I in this “new generation”? What exactly constitutes this alleged generation? Secondly, do I not like having sex? WHAT?! How is it even possible that this article was written? Third of all, has this woman never met a teenage girl?
image by m. janicki
And then I reeled it in. Truth: I am a twenty-six year old who is engaged to the most wonderful person ever. Truth: I have had plenty of sex with plenty of people. Enough to know that I don’t need to go around banging whomever I please anymore, and am not all that sad about it. Truth: I just think that monogamy is the most complex, interesting, and compelling thing since sliced bread. I certainly don’t think that there is anything easy or simplistic about deciding to be faithful to someone for the rest of your life.
I started early, too early. Looking back, I wish that at the time I would have thought that I was worth waiting for. I wish that I would have just chosen to skip over the first handful of people that I let lie and tell me that I was beautiful and that they would call me. However, I don’t regret having made those choices, because it gives me a really good grasp on what it feels like to be young and reckless, and make choices because you feel so badly about yourself you are willing to give yourself away to anyone who asks.
I find it fascinating that in an era where sex is EVERYWHERE, that Jong’s op-ed asserts that women are choosing instead to focus on monogamy and motherhood. I also find it mildly offensive that these choices are being deemed unfeminist, sterile, or controlled. I find it interesting because, as someone who grew up in the middle of this unclear and wide-spanning “generation,” I find that when you see naked bodies plastered all over the internet, billboards, and with sex being sold everywhere – it’s just not that exotic anymore.
I find it fascinating that I can name the number of people that I know who are in loving, healthy, long-standing relationships on two hands.
image by oedipusphinx theJWDban
People who are in it for the long-haul, who really love one another and are willing to do anything to make it work? Totally exotic. People who find a way to bring their fantasies and sexual appetites INTO their relationships, and create sex-positive environments for themselves with loads of intimate conversation and experimentation? WOAH. I love that. Parents who are raising a seriously awesome, grounded, and well educated new generation? I have the utmost respect for that.
When I look around at my “generation” I see lot of diversity in regards to sexuality and lifestyle choices. I admit that I see a lot of people who are choosing to marry young. I know some who have already gotten divorced and are heading in for round two. As a child of divorce, I know that some relationships are beyond saving – and that is not the end of the world. However, when I dig deep and look in my heart, I find that I am inclined towards these old-fashioned relationships values. I am not inclined towards these values because they put me back in the kitchen, bare-foot and pregnant, but because I really believe that relationships can last and can be worth fighting for.
However, I don’t believe that marriage or children or monogamy or whatever it is that “we” are seemingly doing wrong means sacrificing your sex life for security. Isn’t it possible to have a sex life and be in a monogamous relationship?
More often than I care to admit – I have a habit of repeating myself when I think something is really, really important.
Buying a pair of jeans that fit you like a dream, or getting a dress custom fit for your exact body measurements is extremely important – but possibly most important is what you’re wearing underneath. I have this thing about underwear, and if it is even slightly cutting into my skin I’ve found that it can be a real day-ruiner.
Hips & Curves Leather Corset with Side Ties
Back to Hips and Curves, because this truly is the best plus-size lingerie company that I’ve found. Check out this little snippet from their about page – how can you not love a company like this?
Our entire aim is to provide fabulous, sexy plus size lingerie that celebrates the beauty and sensuality of fuller figures. And because we focus exclusively on plus sizes, our fantastic selection of lingerie provides just the right amount of support, enhancement – and oomph! Never again will you find yourself squeezing into a corset that was designed with a smaller busted girl in mind.
Other bonuses? Their customer service is speedy and knowledgable. ALSO, their models are super hot, and I don’t care where you are in your journey to self-love, seeing your body type represented by an online company reaches down somewhere deep in your heart and makes you feel loved.
Other notable plus-size lingerie companies (sites might contain photos NSFW):