Maturation

Lessons from the Erotic Void

Black Square  , Kazimir Malevich, 1915

Black Square, Kazimir Malevich, 1915

Originally posted January 12, 2015

These past few months have been some of the most emotionally intense of my life. I am sitting square in the center of every fear that I didn't dare admit:

-I'm fat (As a recovering anorexic, this is the equivalent of death).

-I'm a mediocre actress.

-I'm an inexperienced writer who isn't good enough for a book deal.

-I have no viable skills and can't even get an entry-level job.

-I'm a terrible lover.

All these voices (which I recognize aren't really me) arise and feel all-consuming in the face of how little external validation I've been receiving.

But the truth is, I've been in a very internal process. Since Burning Man, I have purposely reduced the number of social media posts in order to release myself from the pseudo-erotic hit of human connection I receive whenever someone pushes "Like."

I've intentionally carved out the 6-month quiet space I need, free from professional and personal commitments, to finish the draft of my book (which I did December 1) and to complete my personal edits of it before passing it on to a pro editor (which I intend to do by March 1).

In going over my manuscript, I realize that there is something so genuine, pure and undeniably erotic growing in this moment--a profound intimacy with my own voice. I am not writing this book--it is writing me and it's medicine comes more for my own healing than anything else.

And perhaps, it's time to stop complaining and start listening to its wisdom.

EXCERPT FROM PART ONE: INVOCATION, CHAPTER 6: EROTIC DEPRIVATION AND THE COMMODIFICATION OF SEX

"Most of us are stuck in craving mode because we are socially barred from experiencing the erotic in our everyday life. Our society values the logical comforts of stability over the mythical possibilities that rest in the unknown. We’ve linked our value as humans to this “logical stability” and to other quantifiable means of success—so it’s no wonder that we rush in fear and craving towards anything that will temporarily fill and silence that painful void.

Our modern commercial industry and business culture know our insecurities and continuously reinforce these addictive habits—it’s what keeps them profitable, after all. They pose a problem in your life, show you the emotional struggle and then offer the one and only solution (often adorned with scantily clad women, once again fusing and confusing the world of eros and sex) that will take care of everything for a low, low price. But the truth is eros demands we pay the highest price—letting go of all the pride and vanity that stand in the way of unconditional love. And the kicker is that no one else can give it to us no matter how much currency we offer. It is only found by sitting in the discomfort of our own erotic void.

Eros thrives in those moments of "wanting" and it is through the dynamic tension created between “wanting” and “having” that orgasmic energy can build and power us. Yet we spend our lives lamenting how we aren't "having" and miss this key opportunity to tap into the erotic fulfillment that flourishes within the gaps of our lives."

How Humility Breeds Confidence

Originally posted March 31, 2014

In my meditation this weekend, I connected to a very young and tender part of myself needing love: the terrible two-year old who is in a constant bratty fit, never likes what she has and feels entitled to her every whim.

I sat with this girl and, in the midst of deep embarrassment, found compassion for her. I discovered that even if no one in the world likes her, there is always someone out there who loves her: myself.

I noticed how she often resorts to emotional violence and acts "smarter than everyone else" in order to mask the deep insecurity that she isn't "good enough."

Meeting her in this way taught me much about the power of humility.

Humility isn't about self-deprecation or lowering oneself: it's about the willingness to say "yes" to whatever arises and surrender to the great mystery of our lives.

This becomes the breeding ground of true confidence--for when we are living in our deep "yes," we recognize that whoever we are now and whatever we have to offer is exactly perfect in the moment. We no longer need to "fix" or "adjust" ourselves in order to fit some pre-ordained structure of how we "think" we should be.

From here, gratitude and wonder become our natural state of being and the unknown no longer represents where we are "lacking," but where we are abundant with possibility.

The Hazards of Being an Orgasmic Woman

Originally posted August 7, 2012

Read this article on elephantjournal.com

There is a beast inside of me right now. She’s been neglected for a very, very long time. She’s pissed, starving and demands to be fucked.

If she’s like most women, she’s a sexual anorexic. This is NOT to be confused with a sexually hungry person. A sexually hungry person knows what they want and will do what they need to feed themselves (even if it’s living off Ramen Noodles for a while). A sexual anorexic, on the other hand, has too much pride to admit she’s hungry and gets off on having superior control. She looks down on all those creepy guys in the Tenderloin who stare at you as if you were a dripping, succulent steak. She’s fresh, pure and hops straight off the cover of Cosmo in her size 2 Prada dress.

All that changes when you open your orgasm.

Many guys joke when they hear about it. “Geez, I wish my wife/girlfriend had that problem of wanting to be fucked all the time.” Really? Most men don’t know how to handle a woman when she’s in the throes of indecision of what to order for dinner. You want to throw a 20+ year backlog of unexpressed desire, anger, resentment and trauma into the mix? Good luck.

The current perception of igniting a woman’s sex comes attached with pink feather boas, blossoming flowers and rainbows shooting from vaginas. There also seems to be the annoyingly ubiquitous use of the word ‘juicy.’

Let me set the record straight: forget Barbie and her Sex and the City entourage. Say hello to your dirty, skanky heroin addict.

The other day I woke up in the grips of this otherworldly thing that demanded climax and would stop at nothing to get it. I had just enough consciousness to acknowledge the beast and created the space for her to emerge—and then I plunged pussy-first into the darkness.

I did something I haven’t done in years—I watched porn. Now that may not sound like anything shocking, but what was powerful for me to observe was how utterly helpless I felt in the moment. I needed the drug so bad that I wasn’t going to step out of my room until I had it. I grabbed my phone (which was closer to me than my computer) and searched for ‘free porn.’ I found a video, but when it took too long to download, I gave up and ran for my laptop like it was sexual crack. With shaking hands I flipped up the monitor, typed in my password and found what I needed. The Visitor 3. “I don’t give a shit about parts 1 & 2,” I said to myself. “I just want to get straight to the cock-in-pussy pounding.”

Three minutes later, after I had climaxed, a little bit of reality started to settle back into me. My belly felt swollen, like I’d just wolfed down three Big Macs. I was watching this video of two people clearly not connected to each other. And it was set to some of the worst music I’ve ever heard in my life. I started laughing at myself.

“Have I really become that kind of person?” I thought. “I feel more like a scared, pre-teen boy than a 31-year old woman.”

Then it hit me: this was who was rising to the surface—my hyper-sexual teenager—and she was pissed at being chained in the basement for so long.

There was a period in my life, from ages 11-13, when I would masturbate almost every day. Yet in the midst of that sexual exploration, I also felt profound levels of shame. I saw members of my family struggle with sexual addiction and unhealed sexual abuse. I grew up in the South where young, Christian ladies didn’t do things like that. I had heard boys joke about masturbation all the time, but girls never talked about it. I thought I was a pervert—and yet I couldn’t stop.

Until I was 13 years old and got suspended from school for drug possession. I will never forget the look of abject fear on my mother’s face when she got the news. I felt like this horrible, out-of-control animal that had brought shame upon her. A straight-A student fallen from grace. I made a vow that day to suppress anything that was ‘wrong’ or ‘immoral’—which included my sexual appetite.

Fast forward eight years. I’m 21 years old and I’ve just started dating the man I would eventually marry (who was, incidentally, also the first man with whom I’d had intercourse). I’m away for the summer and I meet someone else—someone who rouses that slumbering beast within me. And I fuck him. And again, I feel like this out-of-control animal. And again, I make a decision to tamp down that wretched appetite. I can’t bear to see the look of pain on my soon-to-be husband’s face.

So for the six-year duration of my marriage, I buried that secret along with my shame and my sex. It’s also no surprise that for those six years, I lived as a food anorexic. If history had taught me anything, it was this:

Appetite = People Getting Hurt

But in the back of my mind, I knew that starving it wouldn’t help. In fact, the harder I pushed it down, the harder it smacked me in the face the moment my attention drifted elsewhere. I had to confront it head on. So I left the marriage and decided I would do whatever it took to recover from anorexia.

The months following the separation from my husband were some of the most humiliating of my life. I felt so insecure sexually that I seduced men just to prove to myself that I could, even though I was clueless about my own desires and hadn’t menstruated in over two-and-a-half years. I cried for five months straight. I found myself, on many occasions, standing in my kitchen pantry at 3am gobbling three or four bowls of cereal in a row, not even tasting what I was shoving into my face.

Yet through it all, I knew I was giving my body exactly what it needed. When you hold a pendulum all the way to the left, it has to swing all the way to the right and back again, multiple times, before it finally finds its center.

And this is how it feels right now in my sex. In spite of the junk-food orgasm and the predator-woman who is ready to jump on anything in her path, I simply have to trust how the path is unfolding before me. It feels like I am going down again, only this time the well is deeper. I have fear of losing everything: my money to the credit card company; my credibility to people who know what they hell they are doing; my fiancé to a younger, skinnier, more sexually-embodied tantric goddess.

And here’s kicker: even with all this sexual appetite, I’m bumping right up against my ineptitude. It’s still so difficult for me to ask for what I want. It’s painful to admit to my lover when I’m faking my own turn-on. It’s agonizing to watch as I lie and withhold my love and gratitude again and again and again.

I recently had someone tell me that fucking me was boring. BORING!?

Dear God. Tell me I’m crazy. Tell me I’m out-of-control. Tell me I’m too much to handle. But boring?!?! With my ego thoroughly eviscerated, I had reached a new low.

So this is orgasm in its rawest form. No sparkly glitter parades or rose-scented sheets. Just a searing burn and unbearable pressure as I sit in the crucible of my sex.

But as I sit here, the words of Anais Nin rise to the surface:

And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.


And I am reminded of why I chose this path and how lucky I am to feel alive. Those lonely, numb nights of starving madness are a place I can never return. Now that I have had a taste of what’s possible—electric connection, deep love and surrendered pleasure—I have no choice but to burn on.

This is what it takes to move from the chains of bondage to orgasmic freedom. The real sexual revolution doesn’t happen by burning bras or holding on to anger against men; it happens in our own minds, hearts and pussies. And it’s waiting for us, whenever we’re ready.

Just don’t say I didn’t warn you.

Womanhood and the Reawakening of My Erotic Innocence

Originally posted May 23, 2012

Also view this article on elephantjournal.com

I have been a very dirty girl. And I’m OK with that.

Well, sort of. It’s more like I am learning to love this part of myself. She’s been in hiding for some time now, afraid that if she speaks to loudly or chews with her mouth open or runs naked through the streets, people will get angry. Or they will laugh at her. Or they will watch her with a starving madness and she will feel their shame burning through her skin (which will then light the fire of her own shame and her ‘good girl’ cover may get blown).

But this ‘dirty girl’ is not what you might be thinking. She’s no ‘been-there-done-that’ kinda chick, nor does she spend her nights trolling around town looking for the next hot lay. She’s actually quite naïve—she comes from a place before her sex got tied in the knots of social conditioning.

We’ve only been recently reacquainted.

I’m face down on the bed. My legs are spread. My lover pushing himself inside me. My right fingertips are on my clit. His hands are tangled in my hair as he shoves my face into the pillow. I am bellowing from a place deep within the basement of my soul. It’s uncontrollable, as if a fury has taken over my voice. I vacillate between crying and laughing. Grieving the release of past trauma and marveling at the humorous absurdity of it all.  I am a 31-year-old woman possessed by the banshee spirit of a 4-year-old while in the throes of some pretty brutal fucking.

And within it all, the anger, the terror, the hilarity and the tears, is a tremendous amount of turn-on. My whole body is alive. I have expanded to a point just a hair’s breadth beyond the limits of my safety, for the moment. I feel a twinge of guilt in not pushing further, as if my sex were some sort of product to deliver (and the business of my sex demands utmost customer service), but we fall asleep, sweetly drenched in the hair and sweat of our electric togetherness.

But what expands, must equally and oppositely contract. A few hours later, he reaches for me in the vulnerable darkness, hands on my ass, cock pressing against me. All at once a rage snaps my body tightly together, a violent ‘No’ escaping my throat and I clutch the sheets in a feeble attempt to scurry away. I am angry and terrified, as a childhood ghost flies through me. My lover holds me tightly, letting me know that I am safe. After a few tense seconds, my body slackens, but what was once alive has now gone numb.

And this frightens me. I know this place. I took up residence for a number of years. Starving myself in the addiction of anorexia in the attempt to quell the voices of a ravenous (and dangerous) sexuality. Maintaining a pre-pubescent state of being so I didn’t have to face the terror that comes with stepping into womanhood.

After a few minutes I fall asleep. I leave his place the next morning, quiet and unfeeling. I don’t know how to make sense of what I am experiencing. Is it resentment? Violation? Pain? Anger? Shame? All I can tell is that my emotional body has shut down and is on some sort of autopilot. A big block of cement sits right on my belly. If I let the old Candice take over, a passive aggressive brew of sexual withholding and the silent treatment isn’t far away.

A few hours go by and the pain starts to thaw. Vulnerability wins. I can feel again. I break down and call him, crying. I am a confused mess of a woman. On the one hand, I am angry at all men who rape women and for every man who has ever only wanted me for my sex. On the other, I ashamed at my compulsive need to have every man I meet want me sexually. Who am I if I don’t have my sex to offer as collateral for my right to exist in this world? My insecurity breeds a way of being in the world that invites the very reaction I most fear and therefore, it also invites a reaction that comes with a large amount of desire. Desire to confront and know myself as a woman of sexual maturity.

We end the conversation. I feel a bit more relieved, but there is still a bubble of unexpressed desire sitting in me. A few hours later, I meet with a friend for an OM (Orgasmic Meditation). The moment his finger slides onto my clit, the bubble wells up into my eyes and I am silently crying. In this moment, as he is stroking me with tenderness and care. I connect with the sexual innocence of a child. It is sweet, soft and nurturing. I feel emotionally safe and free from shame—something for which my body has hungered for a long time.

As kids, we are naturally curious about our bodies and express pleasure without concern for what others think. Children aren’t born with shame; they experience it once they learn from adults—who are themselves wrestling with their own unhealed wounds around shame and fear of abandonment—that some part of who they are is ‘dirty’ or ‘wrong.’

Our erotic journeys begin at conception, which is itself a sexual act. You see little babies touch themselves in utero. We are birthed through our mother’s genitals. We are nourished at our mother’s breasts. Our fathers hold us in their laps and tickle us to tears. The entire experience of young childhood is both sensual and innocent.

Then shame enters the picture. This can look like adults condemning erotic expression and setting up walls between themselves and children; or, as in my case, adults will be so erotically starving and are unable to share that with their adult partner (if they even have a partner) that they will use their children for energetic support, which opens the door to emotional or physical incest.

Here are a few highlights in the tapestry of my childhood sexual shame:

I can remember being 6-years-old and the neighbor boy pulling down his pants and showing me his ‘wee wee’ and me thinking “Oh my God, I hope my mother doesn’t walk in on this.”

I can remember being 9-years-old and having family members tell me not to dance or lick my lips like Madonna, lest I get the ‘wrong’ kind of attention.

I can remember being 10-years-old and having play acting sessions with my girlfriends in which I would pretend to be the ‘guy’ and we would kiss and rub up against each other. I was both frightened that they would tell their parents and mortified by how much I desired to kiss them again.

I can remember being 11-years-old and teasing one of the girls in after-school care about being sexual. She went and told one of the leaders, who then accused me of child abuse.

I can remember being 12-years-old and thinking I was the only female in the world who masturbated. I had heard all the jokes about boys doing it, but not girls. I thought I was some sort of pervert.

Shame is an arena where most of us can relate, but are too afraid to share with each other because of the repercussions society dishes out for deviating from the sexual ‘norm.’ We women are supposed to hold on to our ‘precious’ virginity as long as possible and only give it up for guys that are ‘marriage material.’ Then once you finally pick one guy, only fuck him for the rest of your life. Be a whore on-demand with him at night, but totally asexual during the day. Without the freedom to explore our desire and communicate it to our partners, we often live our lives with our orgasm locked in resentment and rotting inside our bodies.

Men don’t have it much easier. They are expected to walk around with perpetual hard-ons and their worth as a man rests on their ability to please a woman all night long (a farcical notion frequently expressed in many love songs). If his only experience is from watching porn and talking to his buddies, he may lie to cover up the fact that he doesn’t know how to handle a woman’s pussy and is too ashamed to admit it. This shame, which is vacuum-sealed like Saran Wrap around our fear of sex, is why both men and women continue to hide within the ‘safety’ of societal conditioning; thus, unfortunately, widening the chasm between ourselves and our authentic erotic expression.

Many of us in more ‘liberal’ cities may think we have moved past this kind of archaic relationship with sexuality, but I contest that it is very present. The war on abortion and women’s reproductive rights is a direct attack on female desire. The recent ban on gay marriage in North Carolina (as well as the ban on civil unions for both gay and straight couples) reinforces the belief that unless you are in a monogamous, long-term, heterosexual relationship, you are an unlawful deviant of society. Abstinence-only sex education is getting more of a push from right-wing leaders and now, young girls are attending events known as ‘Purity Balls,’ in which female teenagers pledge their virginity to God and elect their fathers as guardians—a role which then passes only to her future husband.

As you can see, there are many people and institutions more than willing to take the load of sexual responsibility off our hands. And the longer we continue to play this charade, the harder it gets to separate our personal truth from the social lie.  To stand up and say, “No, it is my life, my body and my sex. I will decide what is right for me,” is nothing short of revolutionary.

In the past, I thought this meant doing all the kinky things I had avoided during my young adult years (my focus on school and my marriage were great places for my sex to hide). This ‘saying yes’ to every sexual opportunity that came my way was ‘proof’ that I was sexually expressed. I see now that the more powerful (and vulnerable) choice lies in reclaiming my own erotic innocence, i.e. that part of myself that is simple, pure, unfiltered in her desires and lives with the ethos of ‘pleasure for the sake of pleasure’ and enjoys something simply because it feels good (rather than looks good), without the fear of ‘not deserving it’ or ‘what do I have to give up in return.’ She doesn’t have to show off or prove her worth. For her, ‘No’ is a valid response—it gives her ‘Yes’ that much more power.

And my erotic innocent is a little dirty at times. Because it’s fun to break the rules. To be a little bad. It turns her on. Rebellion is exciting because it paves the way for some new discovery—shakes up the status quo and creates the opportunity for messiness, play and growth. In confronting my childhood trauma, shame and hidden desires, I am now creating the space for all facets of my erotic being to emerge. Within this sexual self-compassion comes the ability to empathize with each person and accept their erotic self. The newborn, the homeless guy, my father, the elderly lady on life support, the nun—everyone is a sexual being. We are all perfectly built for sensuality. And it is through personal acceptance that the doors of inspiration, abundance and living the life of your dreams open. It’s not a silly, utopian fantasy or a special place reserved only for those lucky enough to find it; it is your birthright.

The journey is not easy. But if it were easy, it wouldn’t be as much fun. The pain, the shame, the falling apart, the voices of doubt—they are not my enemies. They are the raw material for my creativity and serve to remind me just how exquisitely human I am—all I have to do is to surrender to them. What a gift that is. To recognize the gift, accept it with humility and pour out gratitude in service to the Divine is nothing short of grace. And it is within the grace of surrender that an erotic innocent is ushered into Womanhood.

Energy Accounting: How Giving Up the Credit Card for Lent Improved my Orgasm

Jack in the Pulpit No. IV , Georgia O'Keefe

Jack in the Pulpit No. IV, Georgia O'Keefe

Originally posted April 9, 2012

See this article featured on elephantjournal.com 

I’ve never been into the ‘Lent’ thing. Raised a semi-faking-it Episcopalian in a sea of Southern Baptists, I was never really forced to adhere to a lot of religious dogma and ritual (thank God). Plus, that black, ashy cross on the forehead was more a Catholic thing, anyway. 

One year I told the youth minister at my church that I was giving up ‘boys’ for Lent. I was about fourteen years old and had only ever had one boyfriend (which lasted about a month) when I was thirteen. Plus I was too interested in making straight A’s and playing soccer to even care about the boys in my school (none of whom I was particularly drawn to anyway). It was a non-issue for me. 

Over the years, I saw how letting go of something for a period of time might work for other people, but I never saw myself as having any tangible addictions. Yeah I could give up alcohol—but really, the few glasses of wine I have a week? Will that really teach me a lesson? I rarely smoked, so that was off the table. And food? Well, I tried to give that up for seven years straight, but that’s another story.

Honestly, I saw trying to find something to give up for Lent about as useful as abstaining from dressing up Chihuahuas in fuzzy sweaters (the former I do not own and the latter I vehemently abhor).

But this year, something felt different. I’ve been digging deep lately into the way that I manage my energy. Exploring which circumstances leave me feeling energized and which ones leave me feeling drained. Where do I put my focus and where I ‘check out’ on life. How I busy myself with a bunch of little crap instead of concentrating on what will move me forward in my career. How I make up a bunch of excuses as to why I am not ‘successful’ yet, as opposed to feeling my desire and moving from her wisdom. How I will say ‘Yes’ to things I don’t really want to do because I am afraid ‘No’ will make me look selfish or will help me accrue credit with another person that I can cash in on a later date.

Enter my financial situation. It’s my belief that the way we do one thing is the way we do everything, and money is simply one expression of the way I cultivate and utilize the energy within and around me. And for the past three years, I have been living on borrowed energy. Oh sure, I started off with a hefty little supply of cash. But over time, I have been spending, spending, spending (with the best of intentions) and have done very little to deposit, deposit, deposit. Granted, it hasn’t been all whores and crack (joke, Mom), but when I finally came face to face with a 5-figure AmEx bill, something inside me went, “Um, Candice…this might be a problem.”

I do have some savings in an emergency fund. A little bit of cash in investments. And a Roth IRA. But over six weeks ago, I estimated that I had only about three more months of savings until I dug myself into serious hole. And this hole was fucking up a lot of my best-laid plans. “I gotta buy that MacBook Pro and that iPhone and that Red Prius and get my ass to LA so I can be in the movies and bring Orgasmic Meditation to Hollywood.”

But the truth is, if I want to even have a chance at accomplishing any of that, I have got to get my energy accounting in order. Financial, personal, relationship, career…you name it. I like to spend, but am not so good receiving.

This is where the power of Orgasmic Meditation comes in to play. I know, many of you are thinking, “What the hell does making money have to do with my orgasms?” But stay with me for a moment. I am going to expand the definition of orgasm and I invite you to do the same (but only if you want to…you can always pick up the old definition on the way out the door. No obligations. No questions asked.)

Most of us equate ‘orgasm’ with ‘climax’: you work yourself up to a boiling point, discharge a large amount of energy and crash over a sharp edge. That’s cool and all…AND that is only one landmark on an entire map of orgasm. The way I define orgasm is that it is the creative life force that births each moment. Yogis refer to it as ‘prana.’ Acupuncturists call it ‘chi’. Whatever floats your boat.

Sometimes this orgasm is low and soft and sweet. Other times it is sharp and scratchy and acrid. There are infinite expressions of orgasm in the world—from the sunshine dancing off the warm, green buds of spring, to the muddy, sticky floor-beds of a swamp. Everything has its own orgasmic, erotic, creative expression.

And through the practice of Orgasmic Meditation, we learn (stroke by stroke) how to tap into the orgasm, feel each nuance inside and relax and expand our ability to hold more of that energy, while still maintaining consciousness in that expansion. Because the way we often operate is once we reach a certain level of energy in the body, we will go unconscious, move into habitual autopilot and do everything in our power to get rid of it. We drink it away. We fuck it away. We Facebook it away. We eat it away. We starve it away. Or we push it down until it sits in our bodies and festers into bitterness and resentment (this is how misers operate—alone in their mansions with no friends or meaningful expressions of their life).

And this was the trouble with my finances. Occasionally I would do the clamp-and-horde dance, but 99% of the time, I would reach a certain level of ‘havingness’ and then I would spend my money…money I often didn’t have. I didn’t know how to hold it. My excuses were valid: Holding that much is greedy; I’m not responsible enough to hold that much; If I hold that much, then how can I play the poor little starving artist girl to get the attention that I want? You get the idea. And the way I rationalized spending the money was just to put those big purchases on the credit card. The phone bill. The plane tickets. The retreats. Let it just sit there.

But the thing with credit is that you build interest, and the same applies with your energy. If you spend $10 worth of energy that you don’t have, you not only have to pay off the $10, but you have to pay off a little bit more to just turn direction from spending to depositing. It’s a game of diminishing returns, which, if you play every once in a while, can be alright…but if you make it a habit, it becomes unsustainable.

And so, I found myself looking at my credit card statement about a week after Lent began and noticed that the last purchase was on Fat Tuesday. “Bingo!” cried Desire. This is exactly what you are meant to confront: 40 days of only spending energy if I had the immediate funds to sustain such a purchase. OK, I admit, there were a few times I had to use the card within the 40 days. There was an iTunes purchase that automatically charged my card. There was a day I was out with a friend and, due to a miscalculation in my checking account (my mistake), I had to use the card to cover lunch. And yes, there was that one (just one!) time I had to buy a $3 cappuccino. But I was cold. And it was Sightglass Coffee. And I reeeeeeeaaaaaaaallllyyyy wanted it.

However, over the 40 days, I managed to put only $61.42 on the card (not including the $68.71 in interest). It felt like some sort of breakthrough for me! But the point of the experience was less about could I manage to get through Lent without using the card and more about bringing a certain level of consciousness to how I spend. Like I discovered that travel means more to me than new clothes. I learned that I often play innocent when it comes to big purchases and just hope that ‘someday’ I’ll be able to pay it off (I call this the ‘Rose-Colored Glasses Syndrome’—like that energy-draining, co-dependent relationship with the drug addict who can’t admit his/her problem, and if you wait around long enough, maybe someday he/she will come around and get the help they need). And that I spend about a quarter of my food budget on Kombucha alone (Yeah. I know. Leave me alone).

And with this new level consciousness, I am now free to make an informed choice about how and when I spend my money. I learned more about what I value in my life and can now make purchases that are in alignment with my personal integrity, rather than out of trying to run away from feeling the hungers within me. And with this level of clarity, I am now sitting in position of empowerment, rather than ignorance. I know what I want in my life and I am willing to do what it takes to have it. And if that means dropping into the murky, dark shadows of my orgasm to drop off what no longer serves me, then so be it (even if that includes Sightglass coffee and a few Hippie Festivals).

PS: Of course, I couldn’t write an article with the word ‘Orgasm’ in the title and not mention sex; so for those of you wondering if this kind of accounting helps your sex life, the short answer is yes. However, it helps not by teaching you some technique or fancy way of stroking, but by bringing your attention to the present moment, cultivating sensitivity in your body and learning to trust the deeper desires that arise. Great sex/orgasm/climax is simply the by-product of this level of attention and capacity to hold energy. It’s like those people who step into a yoga class for ‘a great body.’ Yes, you will get ripped doing yoga, but that is the by-product of learning to slow down, feel and honor the subtle wisdom your body has to offer. The same is true in Orgasmic Mediation. We take the ‘goal’ of climax off the table and create a space where you simply get to know the landscape of your orgasm. It takes a bit more time and requires a lot of patience, but in the end, it is the most sustainable way for you to bring that level of aliveness and turn-on into the bedroom and into your everyday life.

Addicted to Daddy: Hunger and the Search for the Integrated Masculine

Sistine Chapel, Michaelangelo

Sistine Chapel, Michaelangelo

Originally posted March 7, 2012

I hit a pretty hard low yesterday. I played it off as “I’ve just been working too hard” and “I’ve got PMS” and “It’s almost a full moon,” but something in me knew I was lying. I woke up around 3am the night before. I had had a dream, but couldn’t quite remember it. I was shivering. I had three comforters on me, a pair of pants, thick socks and a sweatshirt—and I could not warm up to save my life. I wasn’t really sweating. It didn’t feel like a fever. But something in me was stagnated. Cold. And my blood just didn’t have the strength to flow. My legs were shaky and I could barely stand. I got up, put on a thermal shirt and went back to sleep.

Later, I woke up around 7:30am exhausted, but focused. I got some work done, but by 12:30pm, I had to lie down. After two hours, I woke up, heavy and extremely depressed. “Oh God,” I thought to myself, “What is going on? I do not have the will to even get out of this bed.”

I finally did drag myself out of my pit of depression and decided a salt bath would be a good idea. I figured immersing in the warm feminine would be a healthier way to draw out this painful energy, rather than stuffing it down with Girl Scout cookies or glasses of scotch. So there I was, heavy and silent in the bathtub, with my most depressing song mix playing on my iPod, when it all flooded back to me—the dream that woke me up at 3am.

I was with my ex-husband. We were at my mother’s house in Georgia. I don’t remember what we were talking about exactly, but the feeling was like meeting a dear friend again. Laughing, sweet. A glowing warmth surrounded us. He turned his back to me and the next words I heard were not his voice, but my father’s. I was then interacting with my father in that same warm glow. We spoke for some time. Then I saw that it was nearly 6:30. The wife would be home from work soon and it was time for me to go. There was no room for the both of us. At that point, I think my father has blended into my ex-husband again, so I am unsure if the woman coming home was my stepmother or my ex’s current partner. It really doesn’t matter who the woman was. What matters is the feeling of loneliness, the hollowness in my chest and the tight ball in my throat. Again, I had the sense of “bucking up” and “being a big girl” in order to make room for those around me.

Back in the bathtub, hot tears prickled my eyes and dripped down my cheeks. My heart cracked and a thick warmth dripped down my chest. The pressure in my throat grew to a painful, sharp ache. I tried to relax my body and breath, but there was a nausea coming over me and I had a feeling like I could not hold anything else inside of me. I heard my roommate just outside the door and quickly choked up to muffle my sobs. I was vibrating with a mix of sadness, anger and embarrassment. I was shaky and could barely breathe.

I realized that while I have been working to reconnect to my tamped down feminine, I have neglected to acknowledge my hunger for an integrated masculine. I am consciously choosing the word ‘integrated’ and steering clear of the words ‘divine’ and ‘spiritual’ because those tend to refer a way of masculinity that tries to ‘rise above’ and ‘transcend’ the body, the mud, the blood, the anger and all other ‘unpure’ and ‘unsavory’ expressions of energy. But the feminine thrives in that fleshy, earthy world and if we try living only from the waist up, we disconnect ourselves from our raw power.

An ‘integrated’ masculine, however, knows how to go down deep, stand firm in the fire and can come back up to the surface with vision and clarity while still staying connected to the feminine. The integrated masculine does not live in shame of its feminine counterpart, but is strong enough to be the container for it, so that whatever wildness arises, it can hold it all and weather the storm. And when the storm has passed, the integrated masculine knows just the right moment to dissolve and move on to wherever desire leads it next.

OK, so what does all this mean in the ‘real world.’ My personal brand of masculine hunger (and one to which I believe many people can relate) is an Addiction to Daddy. This means seeking out men who will take care of me and provide stability in some way, either financially (the men with the nice cars and the money who will whisk you away to fancy dinners and trips to exotic locales) or emotionally (the men who are connected to their feelings and will love you and bend to your will every time). This addiction comes coupled with a level of insecurity and shame that has me dying to feel loved and approved of. So a shadow arises in which I need these men to believe that I am the most gorgeous, smart, amazing, perfect, fill-in-the-positive-adjective woman they have ever met. Yet, when my desire meets the reality of the situation (I really don’t want to be in a relationship with these men), I end up leaving. After a while though, the hunger starts to gnaw at me again and the cycle begins once more.

The thing is addicts tend to attract addicts. So while I am seeking this hit of masculine approval, the men are looking to connect to their wounded feminine through me. They get to play out being the stable provider and the one who fixes all the problems—everything a ‘real’ man should be. Unfortunately then, we are all walking around relating to each other as drugs, rather than as humans, and we use the hooks of romance, relationship and porn for our hit.

It is also my belief that society feeds this addiction through selling the ever-pressing need to ‘find a mate.’ Millions of hungry women are all over dating web sites. Hungry women go to the movies and feed on the idea that ‘if only I find my soulmate, then I will live happily ever after.’ Women’s magazines (purchased by hungry women) are plastered with headlines like “How to Hook Him and Keep Him Forever” and “3 Easy Steps from Single to Saying ‘I Do’”.

And make no mistake—I am not speaking only about heterosexual relationships. This isn’t about men and women, but masculine and feminine. What we are dealing with is an overall dearth of an integrated masculine energy. So whether you are homosexual, trans, bi, whatever—we are all looking to fill in those energetic places in ourselves where we feel we are lacking. So a feminine-energy man may go seeking a masculine-energy man. Or a feminine-energy woman may go seeking a masculine-energy woman. Whatever. The point is that this is a universal way of managing our hunger.

I have seen Daddy Addiction manifest in many ways. With people who had the ‘ideal’ father, they may be serial monogamists, constantly seeking out that one man good enough (and he never is) to fill daddy’s shoes. In people with absent fathers, they may glut on masculine energy through constant dating and one-night stands. Still others may surround themselves with vibrators and romance novels and fantasies (to get the feel of interacting with the masculine) but are too afraid to connect with another person.

I also believe in the past years, there has been a stigma attached to anything that is too ‘masculine’, particularly in the spiritual/transformational world. I know many people who say things like ‘Oh, that’s the masculine way. You are not going with the flow. You are not feeling into me. What’s with all the boundaries?” Blah blah blah. Listen. There is nothing ‘wrong’ with structure or the masculine, just like there is nothing ‘wrong’ with chaos and the feminine. One is not ‘better than’ the other. In fact, with integration, they both support each other in ways infinitely greater than if each tries to work on their own.

Yes, as women, we have had to work hard in order to rise above the centuries of cultural shame that has come with carrying feminine energy. And there is still work to do. In the US, women continue to make only $0.77 to every man’s dollar (1). The crackdown on homosexuality, especially in males, is another example it. And of course there is the pervasive oppression, circumcision and torture of women in other part of the world.

However, blindly reacting in rejection and anger to the masculine is not the way towards healing. This will only lead to shadowy attempts at sneaking a fix of masculine energy (Daddy Addiction, in my case). What I am finding to be true for myself is that the more I peel the layers of shame on the feminine within me, the more I can trust my masculine to support her and stay connected to her desires as we all move on the journey. So my dream had less to do with my ex-husband or my father, and more to do with the relationship with my own internal masculine, first by acknowledging and feeling my anger/grief and then learning to love and forgive that energy within me. With that forgiveness, comes relaxation and space for my authentic feminine to arise, integration to happen and internal healing to begin.

Once we have learned to cultivate an integrated masculine and authentic feminine, we no longer grip onto others as crutches or fillers for our own insecurity. We are ok with being alone with ourselves. And our deepest hungers get nourished. From here, relationship becomes a choice, rather than a compulsion, and true unconditional love can arise—because we don’t need the person to be anything other than who they are. And however the relationship expresses itself, we can flow with that and see the conflicts that arise (because they inevitably will) not as places to project all our latent anger, but as opportunities for knowing ourselves better.

Yeah, yeah, yeah, I know. It all sounds nice on paper, but in practice, it is tough as hell. I see all the places where I grip to a hollow masculine. I force myself to ‘be productive’ even when my body knows it needs a rest. I cling to people for their attention and approval in order to feel ok about myself. I hold myself back emotionally because I have shame around admitting my hunger. All these add weight to my bouts of depression and leak energy, contributing to my frigidity and exhaustion.

But I also have clarity and insight that would not have come had I not fully walked into the knot of my pain. And through developing this skill and sensitivity, I know who I am a little better, can express it more easily and feel more compassionate towards myself. These are the gifts of the shadow, harvested in the depths of my feminine and can now be shared with the world through language, structure and a more integrated masculine. 

Happy OM-iversary: The Terrible Twos

La Vague Violette , Georges Lacom be

La Vague Violette, Georges Lacombe

Originally published February 11, 2012

I feel like I am going out of my mind right now. Truly bonkers. Climbing out of my skin, bloodying my nails, ready to scream and looking for anything, anything, to deaden the intensity of this sensation: food, cock, wine, Facebook, TV, picking a fight, obsessive cyber-stalking, inert-your-checkout-vice-here.

On the verge of tears. Can’t make a decision. My feelings get hurt at every turn (even though I try to play it off like I am so caring and understanding). And here comes the entitlement. The anger. The bitchiness. And a splashy cameo by the Princess (or is she really front and center?).

Two years to the day. Two goddammed years doing this crazy stroking practice and I feel like it's only just now that I have begun to lean against the membrane that surrounds my hunger…and everything catches my attention and whets my appetite like the smell of freshly baking bread (or is that sizzling raw meat?).

What. The Fuck. Is Going On?

I ask for what I want. I get it. I get angry. I deserved more, asshole—didn’t you know?

I ask for what I want. I don’t get it. I get angry. Fuck you.

I feel your resentment (or is it mine?). I get angry. Go away from me.

I want. A lot. And I want that to be ok. Why is it not ok? Don’t warn me against greed or consumption or that I am setting myself up for samsaric suffering (please, spare me the self-righteous bullshit, thank you very much. Your greed to collect income in the spiritual bank is just as comparable to my carnal hunger).

Who is this person I am fighting with? Of course, the obvious answer is myself. Yes, yes, yes…like a good little coach I “inquire” and “take responsibility.” I see all the faults and fears and scarcity in others and project all my shit all over that. Where am I saying YES when I mean NO? Where I am giving in to unspoken requests, when deep in my heart they are not in alignment with my integrity? Where I am acquiescing as opposed to surrendering?

But as a real live human woman, I just want. So very much. And the most pressing question in my mind is “What do I want?”

I was originally thinking of calling this post “The Sex I Want,” because I was feeling confused and hurt and angry about my sexual hunger. Was I craving sex to fill a void, which will ultimately leave me undernourished and depleted? Or was there really a desire to intimately connect and express. I think it’s a little of both. And there was this overwhelming shame that came with wanting more. More than 2 OMs a day. More than sex twice a week. And once that faucet started to turn on, a whole flood of other desires started to flow. Beyond the sex (which was just the catalyst). Into the shoes I want. The clothes I want. The acting roles I want. The money I want. The job I want. The car I want. The travel I want. The writing I want. The awards I want. The glamour I want. The beauty I want. The people I want. The freedom I want. The life I want.

So…this is the process of “turning on.” I get flooded with energy (orgasm). My system comes alive. And what no longer serves me comes to the surface like salt in a wound. All the ways I played small so as not to acknowledge that very dangerous appetite. And then comes all the anger I feel for playing that game. Oh God…I don’t want to see that. And then, my poor little body (which isn’t used to this much activation) tries to do anything to expel this energy.

Growing pains. It hurts to expand out. To break through the old armor and feel the raw, exposed nerves and tender flesh of something so well-hidden that I feel too humiliated to share it. Not knowing anything anymore. Not knowing what’s right. Having really no clue what the future holds for me. Just sitting here with an unbearable ache and no way to find relief.

Just sit. Just sit. Just. Sit.

I could search around for the some lame piece of self-help advice. Some momentary aphorism that may inspire me for the moment. Post it on Facebook. Secretly hope all my friends like it and think what a cool person I am.

Or I can just be here and listen to the quiet little voice in me that has one simple message: Live your life.

Huh? That’s not very comforting. But on some level, it’s the only true thing that exists right now. There is nothing to figure out or fix. No map or plan or prediction that is going to make it easier. It’s only through simply living my life and cultivating a relationship with all that arises—the fear, the confusion, the pain, the joy, the love, the heartbreak, the rejection, the surprise, the anger, the hunger, the magic—that I will come any closer to knowing what I want. If that even matters anymore. What if trying to “know” anything is in and of itself an attempt at triggering the pressure release valve?

Just live my life. It feels so simple. A moment-by-moment fumbling in the hot, blind, wet cave of my wanting. And in that one stroke, I suddenly feel just how very sexy this place is. This void. This empty hole. This cavern wanting very, very skilled penetration—to cut through the briars of my NO into the aching warmth of my YES.

My heart is racing. My genitals pulse. My belly is swollen. My breath is slow and deep. I feel the cool wood of the floor against my tingling feet. I feel…alive.

OK, Orgasm. You win. Gratitude washes over me and I suddenly know that I am capable—more than capable—of holding this and so much more.

This is the process. The alchemy. Orgasm in. The fire burns. The pain. The fighting. The acceptance. The surrender. The insight. The gratitude. The expansion. The love. The pouring out. Lather. Rinse. Repeat.

Two years—a lesson in unbearable patience. I’ve been hungry for so long that the moment I see something that remotely resembles nourishment, I clamp down on it and I want it all for me right now. A vicious cycle of feast or famine. Now the work for me is to simply sit. Sit in the hunger, trust that she is loved and will be fed and that with the passing storms, the next right thing will appear in time.

And breathe. Always remember to breathe.  

Dropping the Fairy Tale: Good Girls vs. Good Women

Anne Hathaway, Princess Diaries

Originally posted July 23, 2011

Once again it’s time for another one of those posts that explores the finer distinctions between two seemingly similar subjects (you may remember an earlier post of mine, What do you REALLY want: Desire vs. Craving).

Through the questions that arise in coaching sessions to observations made in nail salons to my own personal journey, I have discovered that we as women have a hard time letting go of the “good girl.” You know, the one all in pink who sat quietly in church, never tells a lie and is the apple of daddy’s eye? No, you don’t, because she doesn’t exist. As much as we try to be that “good girl,” our desire and orgasm sneak out in a lot of ways. It can leave us feeling exhausted doting on others and guilty in our inadequacy. Or perhaps we’ve rejected our desire for so long, we react in anger and blame those who “took advantage of us.”

In any case, we are grown now. Free women to choose what we want, whenever we want it…right? Well, not exactly. Our bodies may have matured, but the way that we interact with the world has changed very little from when we were 4 years old. In fact, we still live in a society that very much reinforces the notion of a high-class lady as being pre-pubescent thin, beautiful and, above all, very proper. Any other type of woman is troubled, too much, crazy, a slut, etc (you’d never see Prince William fight for the hand of someone like Lady Gaga, even if he were madly in love with her).

So I’ve come to set the record straight and help out my fellow ladies who are working on finding their voice and coming to their power. No, to break out of the “good girl” mold, you don’t have to become Lady Gaga (though I love that woman with every ounce of my being). But you will have to confront and let go of a lot of old ways of relating that kept you safe and comfortable in the past.

So, without further ado, I bring you the Top 10 ways of telling a “Good Girl” from a “Good Woman.”

1. A good girl runs from fear. A good woman embraces it.

A good girl doesn’t want to rock the boat. She’s afraid of hurting people, going outside the box…essentially she is afraid of life. A good woman doesn’t escape her fear, but she leans into it, because she knows her ultimate fulfillment comes from discovering the desire on the other side.

2. A good girl denies her hunger. A good woman relishes it.

“Oh, no thank you, I’m full.” “Oh I’ll just have the diet platter.” “I’ll skip dessert. I’m being good this week.” We’ve all heard the catchphrase of women still caught in “good girl” mentality. And we also know that women dieting are more likely than not having orgasms. And this doesn’t mean that a good woman is stuffing her face all the time and pigging out on cheetos and bon-bons. But a good woman slows down and knows herself well enough to choose what is nourishing and relish every bite…whether it’s the grilled fish and asparagus, or the double chocolate chip cake. She eats life to feed her soul, not to numb the sensation.

3. A good girl withholds. A good woman adjusts.

A good girl is going to tell her partner what she thinks he wants to hear, but in the process, she holds back a piece of her voice. That unspoken desire sits in her body and, over time, rots into shame and resentment. Over time, she will (consciously or unconsciously) do things to her partner to punish him…and ultimately herself. A good woman tells her partner the truth. She approves of him/her and learns to calibrate her words so she can be heard and received, while fully expressing what it is she wants. She adjusts her partner (and is desires to receive the same kind of attention and honesty in return).

4. A good girl receives with guilt. A good woman receives with grace.

Good girls may accept a gift, but there is always a string of “you shouldn’t have” or “that’s too much” or “you didn’t have to do this” that comes along with it. She has to knock herself down a few notches in order to make it acceptable to receive, lest she feel her hunger (and subsequent shame) that comes with receiving. A good woman says “thank you”. Just thank you. Because she knows she is worthy (without the insecure timbre of entitlement). She listens to her hunger, knows when she is full and pours out genuine gratitude.

5. A good girl does what looks right. A good woman does what feels right.

A good girl follows a tried-and-true structure that will elicit positive reinforcement from her partner and the people in her life. A good woman moves from an instinctual compass. While it may look messy from the outside, deep within her body, she knows it is the path for her.

6. A good girl stuffs her anger. A good woman alchemizes it.

Good girls don’t get angry. Bullshit. They just stuff it until it seeps out as passive aggressiveness. A good woman acknowledges her anger in the moment and feels into it so she can know where she is out of integrity in her life. From there, she can use the force of that anger as power to change course.

7. A good girl strives for perfection. A good woman lives in perfection.

A good girl lives her life seeking to perfect perceived “impurities” in her life, so she is never fully able to relax and drop into the present, lest someone catch a glimpse of her ugliness. A good woman sees every moment as perfect, with both it’s divinity and it’s humanity.

8. A good girl’s desire is frozen. A good woman’s desire is dynamic.

A good girl is bred to want the same thing every day and desire only so much as is socially acceptable. She has lost the connection to the freedom that comes with spontaneity. In fact, she will often deny that she wants the very thing that will give her the deepest satisfaction. A good woman’s desire ebbs and flows like the tide: small and humble in one moment, wild and tempestuous in the next. But it is always, always authentic and she is constantly seeking to expand her container to hold more.

9. A good girl submits. A good woman surrenders.

A good girl submits, relinquishing her power to perceived “authorities” in order to escape the clamoring cry of her orgasm. A good woman surrenders control to her orgasm, and thus holds her own amongst the truly powerful.

10. A good girl waits for the fairy tale. A good woman creates her own legacy.

A good girl is still trapped in a tower, like a virginal princess waiting in vain for Prince Charming to save her. Over time, she can turn jaded and bitter, a “victim” of the happily-ever-after story she bought. A good woman turns the key to the door, descends the tower staircase and, like a Queen, enters the vast terrain of her own pleasure. It is from this empowered place that she can choose the life she truly desires.