Surrender

One of the Scariest Decisions of my Life...

Originally posted October 31, 2014

One of the things I've learned over the years as an Orgasmic Life Coach is how to spot desire. When I hear the tremble in a client's voice or the strain of resistance or the ho-humness of "that really doesn't matter," I know I am getting closer to what s/he truly wants.

I've learned all the tricks in the book...because I was a master myself. I could rationalize my way through any decision--hiding my desire in the safety of "socially acceptable behavior"--until finally the dam gave way and the messiness of my pulsing orgasm came gushing forth.

I've gotten a lot better at honoring what I want, but there are definitely still times when it takes every ounce of courage to own my desire.

Today feels like one of those days.

But here goes anyway...

As of November 1, I will no longer be taking on any long-term coaching clients. I am freeing my time and shifting my focus on writing, performing and public speaking.

Of course I will continue to work with my current clients for as long as is necessary.

I am committed to redefining orgasm and bringing the erotic out of the shadows of the bedroom and into the shame-free sunlight of everyday life. In fact, I see this as my life's mission. And while this career shift is quite scary on many levels, in my heart I know it is absolutely the next right step.

I've always been a storyteller and I believe it is through artistic expression that I can have the most impact. My writing continues to be a source of joy (and my book is nearing completion!). I feel most alive performing and giving interviews on the changing nature of orgasm, eros and femininity.

I am profoundly grateful for the many people who have chosen to work with me and share their journeys over these past 4+ years. It is through their vulnerability that I have been able to come to accept mine.

For now, I am still available for my signature 2-hour Deep-Dive sessions (both coaching and OM) but by referral only. 

I feel very excited for the next phase of my life as an integrated artist/healer and although I am not really sure how it's all going to look, I can honestly say that orgasm has never let me down thus far--so why would she now?

Thank you for being my orgasmic community and for being such an open and supportive reflection for me in this life.

In faith and service,
Candice

6 (Non-Linear) Steps to an Orgasmic Life. (Part One)

girl jumping.png

Originally posted November 11, 2013

View this article on Elephant Journal

I hear it all the time from my clients:

“My relationship is boring”

“My life is so blah”

“I’m stuck in a job that I hate”

“I eat/shop/fuck/diet to numb myself from my emotions”

“My sex life is non-existent”

“I’m afraid I’ll lose control”

“Everything feels so stagnant”

“I don’t know what I want”

Fortunately, I know what they want: orgasm.

Not necessarily sexual climax (though that can be quite a lot of fun), but a high-octane shot of The Orgasmic Life.

So what does all that mean?

Orgasm, as I define it, is that living, breathing life force that births every moment. It’s that energy wakes us up and reminds us how alive we are.

If you’ve ever practiced yoga, you may have heard the word pranaIf you are into acupuncture, you may have heard the term chi. Both of these are good analogies for the kind of orgasm of which I speak.

When we think of orgasm in these terms, we realize that this force is accessible in any moment, not just in the bedroom. And when we learn to identify and work with this energy (and its partner, desire), we open the door to an Orgasmic Life.

An Orgasmic Life is a dynamic life.

Each moment is a fresh one. It’s a life full of wonder, passion, electricity, surrender, pleasure and aliveness.

While that may all sound amazing and exactly like what you want, an Orgasmic Life also requires risk, a willingness to change in any moment and trust in the unknown.

Our little reptilian, survival brains are wired at an early age to keep us safe. Don’t color on the walls, lest we make mommy mad (and lose her love). Don’t take center stage, lest we end up the object of public ridicule (and be ostracized). Don’t touch ourselves pleasurably, lest we be shamed (and labeled as “perverts”).

Or it could have been more sinister. To rebel against our conditioning may have resulted in some sort of physical, sexual or emotional abuse.

Thus we’ve grown up in a world that values security and linear thought: If I make straight A’s and go to college and get a stable job and make a lot of money, I will attract a member of the opposite sex and get married and have kids and be happy.

While this may be exactly the right way of life for someone, for many of us, it just doesn’t work that way. We have the intuition that there is more. More of life to see, experience and love. We get the sense that we’ve been settling for OK, rather than reaching for our potential. We’ve chosen a life of numbing the chronic pain that is trying to tell us somethingrather than feel it all, learn from it and expand our pleasure threshold.

To be clear, an orgasmic life takes an infinite number of forms. It’s less about changing the external circumstances and more about your perception of those conditions. A vendor selling coconuts on the beach in India for 50 years may experience more orgasmic pleasure than a jet-setting, billionaire CEO.

It’s the how, rather than the what, that helps us tap into the orgasm already present and flowing in our lives.

In Part 2 of this article, I’ll list and explore the 6 (non-linear) steps to an orgasmic life.

On Writing, Faith & ‘Figuring It Out’

Renee Zellweger in  Bridget Jones' Diary

Renee Zellweger in Bridget Jones' Diary

Originally posted January 27, 2013

View this article on elephantjournal.com

“The moment that you feel that, just possibly, you’re walking down the street naked, exposing too much of your heart and your mind and what exists on the inside, showing too much of yourself. That’s the moment you may be starting to get it right.” ~ Neil Gaiman

I hadn’t really thought of myself as a writer.

I’d only begun creating poetry and essays to help me through my divorce and eating disorder recovery in 2009. A year later, I began the journey into my own sexuality. 2011 saw the birth of my blog, ‘The Orgasmic Life’ (previously called ‘Returning Saturn,’ in order to honor the lessons from the painful events in my 28th year). And then in February 2012, inspired by an off-hand suggestion from my then boyfriend (now fiancé), I sent ‘Anorexia and the Mother Shadow’ to elephantjournal.com.

At first, I was thrilled any major online magazine would even look at my writing, let alone publish it.

That one article led to another, then another, then another—until something new, vibrant and very, very tender arose: that part of my soul that yearned to be a ‘writer.’

So when Karl Saliter asked if he could interview me for his piece on How the Top-Earning elephantjournal.com Writers Strike it Rich, I was more than surprised—I was humbled (see full interview at the bottom of this article).

It also made me wonder, “Am I now officially a writer? And if so, how does that impact where the rest of my life is headed?”

I write and people read. That’s a fact. I coach and people work with me. That’s also true. Despite my putting no attention on my acting career since moving to the Bay Area, I still managed to do a play reading, an audition class and a short film last year.

And I’m getting married. Again.

I live in San Francisco, someplace I thought I would hang for three months tops—a layover on the way to Los Angeles. Fifteen months later, I’m still here. Before that, I had a thirteen-year love affair with New York City, living the life of a theatre actress/yoga teacher. But I’m a southerner at heart—born and raised in Atlanta, with a two-year childhood pit stop in Germany nestled in between ages 5 to 7.

I think this is what we call an ‘identity crisis.’

If I keep writing, does that mean I’ll never perform again? Will I lose my love of coaching, like I did for teaching yoga? Why am I still living in a city that still sometimes seems like a ‘friend with benefits’ vs. ‘the one’?

I want to feel at home. I want to have it all figured out, god damn it! I’m 32 years old; aren’t I supposed to be a responsible adult by now, with a 401k and a mortgage and health insurance and a baby on the way (or at least an attention-demanding pet)?

Nope. I’m just here. Shifting. Morphing. Experimenting.

And you know what? To my surprise, that’s OK.

If I waited to have things ‘figured out’ before taking action, I’d still be living at my mother’s house, drooling and in diapers.

All of life is one high school science lab. The experiences we face become the lessons we learn. The mistakes we make become the glimpses through the cracks of our souls’ armor. Love in face of hatred. Compassion in the face of anger. Vulnerability in the face of grief.

And faith in the face of doubt. I’m not talking about faith in God or religion (unless that’s your thing). I am talking about faith in yourself, or as Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. says, “Taking the first step, even when you don’t see the whole staircase.” Faith in your power. Faith in your dreams. Faith in your strength. Faith in your innate genius, intuition and intelligence.

Faith and courage to open your heart to that which is most precious to you—even if you stand to lose it all.

That is the level of faith we are talking about—and if we are bold enough to admit the sheer magnificence of our dreams, then the price for walking that path demands no less than everything.

It’s not easy. Living this way is often frightening, humiliating, strange and painful.

Yet it’s also glorious, exciting, adventurous and deeply gratifying.

And, ultimately, that uncertainty is what aliveness means to me. Anything else feels like waiting at the bus stop for death.

So here I sit. In the middle of living—figuring it all out or not figuring it all out or whatever the hell it is we are doing here on earth.

So thank you life, for challenging me to grow beyond my edges.

Thank you faith, for reminding me that I don’t have to have it all ‘figured out’ in order to enjoy the ride.

And thank you readers, for supporting these words and for playing a vital role on my journey.

In faith,

Candice Holdorf

Karl Saliter: What part about being an elephant writer has been a surprise benefit?

Candice Holdorf: The surprise benefit of writing for elephantjournal has been threefold: One—the massive level of readership EJ has cultivated. I've never imagined my work being read on such a wide scale. Two—the quality of the audience. The kind of people EJ attracts has an open mind, an ability to discourse intelligently and respond to my work with respect and honesty. What I write can be a little far out and sometimes hard to hear. EJ readers are in a class like none other. Three—a shift in personal perception. In the past, I thought of myself more as an actress/yogi with an interest in sexuality and writing. Writing for EJ has totally changed that. Whereas I previously felt limited in my goals and creative outlets, I now see that I have a LOT more to offer the world than I thought. And I see, too, that I am big enough to hold all these desires—in fact I feel stifled if I'm not nurturing all these parts of my creative self.

KS: What questions do you ask yourself before you hit "submit for review?"

CH: The main question I ask myself before submitting anything is "How does this sound to my ears?" I have no doubt that what I write is my own personal truth, but if it the melody is off, no one will hear the music. Sometimes it's a mellifluous flute; sometimes it's a discordant clang. But either way, the sound must reflect the feeling I want to share—otherwise it's just words on a page.

KS: What do readers who want to write need to know?

CH: Readers who want to write should just start writing. Even if the next day you look at the page and think, "Dear God what was that drivel that came out of me," it doesn't matter. You have to turn on the creative faucet and allow what wants to flow to flow. I made a personal vow in 2007 to start writing three, hand-written pages a day of whatever just wanted to come out of me and I've stuck to this religiously. Mind you, most of these musings are probably not fit for print, but a lot of amazing ideas and insights came from this practice. After time, you will then discover your voice, your distinctive tone and what issues matter to you.

KS: What's next on your creative plate?

CH: Well, right now I have three books in mind. One is an e-book filled with poetry and real life stories from my personal erotic diary. I'd also love to get some photos of me in there posing as various female archetypes. Another book is more of a self-help book that links cultivating a connection with hunger and orgasm to healing oneself from anorexia, which I struggled with for over seven years. The third book is more of a memoir of my life—but I still have quite a bit more living to do before this one gets to a publisher. In fact, one of the chapters is called 'India,' which will be based on my upcoming travels this February to the Kumbh Mela.

In the long run, I'd love to co-write and act in films that explore taboo subjects and find the healing that comes with total acceptance of that which we deem shameful. Of course sex is a huge part of this, but I also want to include eating disorders and addictions of all kinds. I am writing an article now about how porn can actually be used for good. This is in stark contrast to the seedy scenes of men entering peep shows and porn stars depicted as sad and vacant shells of girls searching for daddy. This kind of paradoxical thinking turns me on and I believe it is essential to our spiritual growth as compassionate beings.

Surrender: The Hardest Thing You'll Never Do

Originally posted October 5, 2012

Read this article on elephantjournal.com


Of all fires love is the only inexhaustible one.” ~ Pablo Neruda

I feel like I am at a crossroads. I’ve been here for some time now and I’m getting a little impatient. As the shadows of my former life fade, a vast uncertainty lies before me:

Do I move full-time to Los Angeles this year? Next year? Ever?Do I travel to Peru, Thailand, India or somewhere else?Do I continue acting?Do I continue coaching?Do I lead workshops?Do I take more classes?Do I keep writing articles? A book?Do I give in to necessity and find that secure 9-5 with health benefits?Do I have children now? In five years? Ever?

The more I get caught in the questions, the more trapped/confused/angry/scared I feel. Survival mode kicks in and I start making plans, solving problems and fixing my circumstances. I busy myself with menial tasks that are suddenly of great importance. I fixate on anything that seems to move my life ahead, just like a responsible 32-year-old woman should.

I am a woman in control—pearls on, belt cinched, lipstick unsmudged.

Then a hefty kick in the ass arrives (or sometimes just good sex, though the two often go hand-in-hand these days) and I remember that I have chosen an Orgasmic Life—a life of magic, play, spontaneity, curiosity, adventure, growth and above all, a moment-by-moment willingness to surrender to desire.

And the moment I begin to do anything, I have moved from faith to mistrust. From authenticity to masquerading. From being to performing.

Control forces us to do. Surrender requires that we are done.

In the realm of Orgasm, life does its work through you—but you don’t do a damn thing. In fact, the moment you start to do, you actually get in the way of the greater intelligence unfolding from within.

Unfortunately, our achievement-minded society doesn’t think highly of surrender. In fact, those who choose to live on the edge of uncertainty are often labeled as “cowards”, “irresponsible”, “weak” or “pussies.” We overvalue being on top and ignore, scoff at, condemn or even abuse anything that is seemingly “beneath us.”

We all want to fuck life hard and fast…but no one wants to admit their desire to be fucked.

Yet here’s the sad part—for as much as we walk around brandishing our overdeveloped cocks and boasting about our latest conquests, we are actually starving to be well-fucked and thoroughly conquered. Really. Man, woman, gender neutral, hermaphrodite—it doesn’t matter. The art of receiving a good fuck from life is a human experience and is the gift of our inherent femininity.

Surrender requires a hefty amount of vulnerability. We must be willing to let our guard down. We must be willing to explore what we want. We must be willing to unapologetically ask for it. We must be willing to sit in the fire as we watch the tricks, defenses and games we use to hide, burn away, so we can create the space to receive that which we most desire.

And yet, as my friend Pamela Madsen says, this soft, wet, messy, fucked-open vulnerability is “the place from where sexy flows.” It’s the void where unlimited Orgasm resides and where only the brave and truly powerful can unleash Her onto the world. It is unconditional love.

We think we are starving for love and we troll dating sites and bars searching for that person or experience that we think is going to feed us. We think, perhaps if we fuck it open, it will give us the spiritual nutrition we seek.

We are not starving for love.

We are bloated with love. In fact, we have years of backed up love rotting in our systems. We are just stingy, prideful and frightened motherfuckers who think that we are “giving something up” if we reveal our hands first. We hide behind seduction, perfectionism and poker faces, all while silently choking with shame on our tears of gratitude and awe (that have turned bitter with resentment over the years of blame and victimhood).

No, we are not starving for love, but for the nourishment that comes from being fucked open and sharing our own abundance. When you meet someone and fall in love, that person isn’t giving you their love; they are giving you permission to finally, finally express what’s been locked up inside you. And that expression demands nothing less than the fullest surrender of your pride, anger, shame, fear, envy, hatred and any other stagnant energy sitting on top of your orgasm.

These emotions aren’t wrong. Pride, anger, etc. are all part of the journey and when they are acknowledged and fully felt, can be alchemized as fuel for desire and can deepen intimacy with yourself and the people in your life.

Surrender is a practice, just like anything else in life.

There’s a reason why savasana is considered a master pose and why those who hide behind their busyness pop right up out of it at the end of yoga class (myself included). There’s a reason why many try Orgasmic Meditation once, only to run as far from it as possible afterwards. We seek to do the next thing that takes us out of that place of no-thingness…that uncertain void…the ultimate death of all we thought we were.

And yet, on the other side is the sweetest grace you’ve ever known: absolute communion with your soul. The work is to release the conditions that say, “I will only surrender if…(fill in the blank with whatever is it to which you are attaching your happiness).”

So I’ve given up bargaining with Her, released trying to discover the next right move and allowed her to penetrate my innermost being so that pure, unadulterated Orgasm can flow from me in gratitude and grace. And it’s within the healing balm of grace that love is a choice, freedom is inevitable and surrender is the holiest of prayers.

Sex: You're Doing it Right

Image from the movie  Shortbus

Image from the movie Shortbus

Originally posted August 7, 2012

View this article on elephantjournal.com

The truth, though, is that nothing is really wrong. Nothing is ever wrong and nothing can be wrong. It’s not even wrong to believe that something is wrong. Wrong is simply not possible. As Alexander Pope wrote, ‘One truth is clear, whatever is, is right.’ Wrongness is in the eye of the beholder and nowhere else—Jed McKenna, from Spiritual Enlightment: The Damnedest Thing (The Enlightenment Trilogy)

I’ve faced a mountain of resistance every time I sat down to write this article. Suddenly I would get a thousand Facebook notifications, texts, emails, voxes, insert-your-own-21st-century-distractions, which would take urgent precedence over putting my thoughts to the page. When asked what I thought was getting in my way, the answer came easily:

It’s still so hard for me to believe that I’m actually doing it right.

For example, the other night I was with my lover slowly riding the tip of his cock. The sensation was a low, subtle hum, like sonar pulsing through dense water. A tenuous thread connected us. I often felt lost. An uncomfortable scratching began to grate the left side of my pussy. The scratching suddenly ripped and out of the delicate webbing poured an ocean of hopelessness. I collapsed into tears onto my lover’s body. As we lay caught in the briars of our building orgasm, I looked over at him.

“How are you feeling?” I asked.

“Angry,” he replied. Angry and, based on the electricity vibrating off of him, getting angrier.

The surface layer of my thoughts went something like, “Oh no, I’ve done it again. I’ve fucked it all up. I let the ball drop. I made him mad. I’m too emotional. I’m clumsy. I’m a bad lover. I’m going to lose him.”

But at my foundation, I knew everything was happening exactly as it should. My hopelessness was right. His anger was right. My spiraling collection of thoughts was right. Each crackling moment was right and provided a fascinating glimpse into the hidden powder kegs of our hearts.

As I surrendered into the ‘rightness’ of the experience, my body expanded, my breath deepened and my skin prickled. I knew our sex was big enough to hold everything.

When he had finished speaking, I said what I knew to be true:

“I love you.”

And with those words, we re-established the connection and my capacity to feel intensified.

This sort of ‘orgasmic derailment’ is not an uncommon occurrence in my sex these days. Don’t get me wrong. It isn’t always this painfully overdramatic. In fact, some of the sweetest and most powerful love-making I’ve ever experienced occurred in the days following that incident.

However, the trade-off for sexual authenticity and expanded pleasure is the complete annihilation of everything you thought you knew about sex. The old tricks of seduction no longer apply in the realm of orgasm. The old movies in your head about peak experiences are just that: old and in your head. It’s like an actor trying to copy a performance she once saw or replay one from a previous time. It’s stilted, forced and not rooted in the present.

Heraclitus once said:

No man ever steps in the same river twice, for it's not the same river and he's not the same man.

Nowhere is this truer than in sex. ‘Beginner’s mind’ and curiosity aren’t just lofty ideals—they are vital to the immediate experience. You can’t fake sensation. It’s either there or it’s not—and if it’s not, there is usually a lie in the way. The work is to be honest when you can’t feel and be willing to reveal your desire.

The power is in vulnerability, surrender and death.

Which feels completely antithetical to everything we’ve been taught. Control, accumulation of knowledge, trophy collection and survival of the fittest all contribute to the current framework of sex. And if you’ve been operating in that paradigm, don’t worry! You’re doing it right. It’s natural to associate these momentary hits of validation as ‘proof’ of your worth. It’s all we’ve ever known.

It’s also natural to hide the wounds around our sex, since most of us adopt a belief early on that who we are and what we desire is somehow ‘wrong’ and that we must ‘earn’ the love for which we hunger in order to atone for this ‘wrongness.’

This is at the heart of what most people who work with me face. It’s never about the ‘problem.’ The fact that they lose their erections, have never climaxed, are addicted to porn, haven’t had sex in 20 years, prematurely ejaculate, experience lack of desire, etc., is simply evidence of an unconscious coping mechanism for handling high sensation. That’s it.  And they’re doing it right.

To go one step further, I challenge the notion that there was ever a problem in the first place. What if we left behind the idea that sex is a life-or-death dilemma (lest we die alone or trapped in sexless marriages) and adopt the idea that sex is a playground where all parts of ourselves are invited to play? The princess, the pervert, the virgin, the drug addict, the master, the scared child, the needy co-dependent, the king, the devotee, the betrayer—the list goes on. Is it possible to raise the white flag on the battleground of sexuality and expose the weapons we’ve kept tucked in our hearts?

I know it’s tough. Changing perspective feels like swimming upstream. That’s why I’ve been dodging writing this piece for so long; if I admit my inherent ‘rightness,’ then I have no more excuses for withholding my love. And within my emotional nakedness, I run the risk of pain, criticism and ridicule.

In Scott McPherson’s play, Marvin’s Room, Lee says to her son:

My feelings for you, Hank, are like a big bowl of fishhooks. I can't just pick them up one at a time. I pick up one, they all come. So I tend to leave them alone.

If you replace ‘Hank’ with ‘Sex’, it’s obvious why we run from it or try to cover it up with toys, techniques and romance. Fear warns us to avoid these volatile places and keep them hidden; so who in her right mind would venture in willingly?

Yet the fortresses we’ve erected are the very things preventing us from having the sex we want. We’ve protected ourselves from parental wounding, social rejection and feelings of profound loneliness, which sits on top of the fundamental lie that we are ‘not good enough.’

And, as if we don’t have enough work to do on our own, society capitalizes on this lie by reinforcing it and trying to sell us their ‘cures.’

I recently read a fashion article on the internet (obviously geared towards women) and on the same page, the following four pieces were listed as something I ‘Might Also Like’:

How to Touch His Penis - Sexy Penis Play Techniques (Cosmo)

Sexy Clothes for Women – Clothes Men Like (Cosmo)

How to Make Sex Last Longer - Romantic Sex Positions (Cosmo)

How Much Should You Really Weigh? (MyDailyMoment)

Every one of these suggests that unless a man sexually validates a woman, she isn’t ‘good enough.’ In this case, not being ‘good enough’ looks like ignorance, ugliness, incompetence and corpulence.

Of course, there is nothing wrong with wanting to please our partners and look our best—but if our motivation comes from the fear that we are not lovable, then we are setting ourselves up for resentment.

Men don’t have it much easier. Since it’s practically scientific fact that every man on the planet watches porn, and for a great majority of men, porn was their first education in sexuality, there is a formula for sex that is being continuously reinforced. It’s a one-sided script that goes from kissing to massive hard-ons to penetration to loud, simultaneous climax and cum-on-tits money shots in less than seven minutes. Cut. Check the gate. That’s a wrap.

If you know me, you know I am not anti-porn. Again, we’re doing it right. And if we use porn to escape intimacy and validate our egos, rather than in the spirit of entertainment and play, then both men and women can get locked in the pressure-filled world of ‘shoulds’:

I should be hard all the time

I should want to fuck him the moment he wants it

This sex should be more passionate

I should be making more noise

I should make her cum hard and loud

I should have a huge ejaculation

Anything that doesn’t look like this can cripple someone into thinking there’s something ‘wrong’ with him or her. In reality, most of our sex doesn’t look like porn and most of us don’t look like porn stars. But to cover his shame at not being ‘man enough’, a man may avoid sex or blame his sexual partners. And a woman may take on the false belief that unless she can take it hard and climax fast, she must be broken.

On the flip side of porn, we have what’s known as ‘sacred sexuality.’ What that world has to offer is also valuable, but where we often get caught is in always trying to ‘touch God’ and ‘be one with the light’ and ‘avoid negativity.’ Again, this implies that what is labeled as ‘negative’ is ‘wrong’ and that any experience where you aren’t ‘communing with the Divine’ is also ‘wrong.’ It becomes another pressure-filled world of ‘shoulds’—just with a lot more chanting, eye-gazing and sarongs.

And since none of us wants to look stupid, scared, inadequate or bitchy, we’ve become master pretenders: pretending that we’ve conquered sex; pretending that we know what we want; pretending that our desires aren’t that important; pretending that it’s ok to only have sex 10 times a year; pretending that it’s always the other person stopping us from having what we want; pretending, pretending, pretending.

Pretending: You’re Doing it Right

The good news: sex is big enough to hold your pretender. Your pretender has valuable information—most likely regarding your truth. And, well, there’s just nothing sexier than the truth, in my opinion.

And that’s all this article is, really. My opinion. My experience. My perspective. And if it all gets flipped on its head tomorrow, that’s ok. I’m still doing it right.

And so are you. As hard is may be to believe in the moments of embarrassment and confusion, there really is no problem. Stay connected. Feel. Play. Get thrown off track. Laugh. Cry. Hide. Come out. Hide. Come out again. Be willing to share your fears, your heartaches, your joys, your hungers, your love, your gratitude…everything. This is where the most nourishing ‘get-off’ is: in the messy, mixed-up combustion of all that you are. And if it hurts, just know that the hurt is simply a message pointing you in the direction of your deepest desires.

Just keep going. And remember to breathe. You can’t do it wrong.

Ketchup on Eggs: An Anorexic Gives Up Her Game

Originally posted December 15, 2011

"If you are a turned on woman, you are a special woman, and have likely paid for it--that very thing that has made you too much to handle, a little different, that makes you feel like your wants are too big--that thing that has been used against you, your huge appetite, is your power. It is not there to be fought or beaten down, it is there to be well fed!"--Nicole Daedone, from her post "Turned On Woman"
 

I’ve been in San Francisco for eight weeks now. Since coming here, I haven’t had my period. A spot here or there, but nothing more. This is always a red flag for me that the anorexia is back. Or at least my stress levels are up. And I feel a deep amount of shame when I miss my period. It’s a brutal reminder that I am somehow “less than a woman.” I am not a “normal, healthy, mature, sexual being.” I’m sick. A lost cause. Broken. Wounded. Irreparable beyond all measure (apparently with the anorexia also comes the drama queen).

And I have to admit, for the past few months, the voices have been coming back stronger. And very seductive. They tell me that if I am going to be successful in LA, I have to look the part. And that part is of a thin, well-dressed, sophisticated, powerful woman. And anything less than that is simply unacceptable. They tell me that going down just one more pants size will really put me in the competition. They tell me that eating too many carbs/fruit/meat/fat/sugar/fill-in-the-blank will leave me bloated and fat and undesirable. And even more frightening is they know how to hit me where it really hurts. They tell me that if I am not successful in LA, then I have failed my mission on this planet. That all the people who invested in my being here will be disappointed. I will have let them down. Failed them. And then everyone will be wondering how could someone with so much potential end up just a nobody on this planet.

It goes beyond simple vanity. This is my life purpose we are talking about. And anything that feels beyond my control leaves me paralyzed in fear—I mean literally, frozen in a life-or-death struggle in sheer terror. So I reach for the one thing that I can control.

The food.

I recently had lunch with a friend. I had an omelet with salad. He had a fat, juicy burger. And there was a part of me that didn’t want to show him how hungry I was. I also didn’t want to show him how low-brow I could go by dumping about 1/3 of a cup of ketchup all over my eggs. Like somehow I was exposed and my dirty little secret was out. A refined woman should be content with salad and eggs and should leave about a third of the food on her plate. She should use only the finest quality ingredients, not go slumming with Mr. Heinz. And she should take very small bites, take the time to chew thoroughly, never use her fingers and never, ever lick the plate clean.

And yet, everything in me wanted to dump a mound of ketchup on that plate, use my hands to shove it in, over-salt and over-oil everything, lick up the scraps from my dish—and then polish off his burger too.

And this raw, deep hunger leaves me so crippled, that I will go to extreme lengths to manage it so that it never sees the light of day.

This whole internal exchange lasts about 5 seconds. My eating disorder is rather sophisticated at this point, so it looks completely effortless as I gently pick up my fork and take a small bite, lightly dipping it in the tablespoon amount of ketchup I have neatly dolloped on the edge of my plate.

As the conversation continues, my friend makes an admission to me that he has been smoking for the past few months and that he has a whole routine he has in order to hide the secret. My ears perked up. I wanted access to his taboo little world.

“Give up the game,” I told him. “Tell me your routine. Tell me how well you hide your shame. Tell me about how you feel each time you get away with it.”

He smiled. His face got a little red. The balloon of orgasm swelled between us and we shifted a little closer to each other. Then he started to tell me about the certain clothes that he wears. The place around the corner he walks to smoke. The tree he hides behind. The place where he keeps his cigarettes hidden. The concomitant feelings of shame and euphoria that come when he doesn’t get caught. The backup plan he has should someone catch him off guard.

I felt so close to him in that moment—and profoundly grateful that he trusted me, that I gave up one little secret of my own. I told him that I felt a little shameful putting ketchup on my eggs. That somehow, this was a marker of how low and dirty I was. That I hesitated in doing it, and in fact put less on my plate than what I actually desired. He quietly took that in, with only a slight uplift of the corner of his mouth to give away his amusement.

Now I am here. The controlling has gotten worse since the huge change from NYC to SF. And now with the desire to move to LA coming on (with a projected date of April 1 in sight), I feel the fear deep within my core. I feel how utterly helpless I am. I feel like a liability on anyone who comes within 20 feet of me. I feel like I flash bright and exciting in the first few seconds, but when people see the dirt under the shine, they run away in terror and anger that I sold them a false bill of goods. A human “bait-and-switch” if you will.

I started my first diet when I was 19. Atkins. All hamburgers and cheese and bacon for two weeks. It was pretty miserable, but it started a new way of relating to food that has continued to torture me for the past 12 years. It’s an enemy. One that must be vanquished every day. And the less I put into my body, the more superior I feel. The more “together” I think my life is.

I was in NYC when 9/11 happened. 4 days after I turned 21. Quite a traumatic experience for a girl coming into her womanhood. And instead of fully feeling the fear, I hid it in my body and pushed on, using work and relationships to cover up the fact that I felt so frightened and out of control.

I had 3 months of counseling the beginning of 2003, but since then, all the work I have done has been on my own. Co-writing a play about my experiences has helped. Getting coaching has helped. Practicing Orgasmic Meditation has helped. Yoga teaching has helped. Raising $1000 for the National Eating Disorder Association has helped.

But it keeps coming back. Subtle. Convincing. And it just feels so goddamed good each time I make it through another meal without those weak fuckers knowing just how slick I have been. How I avoided eating the “wrong” foods. How I ate even less than them. How little I need and yet I can still top them all.

Except I can’t anymore. I am getting sloppy. Tired. And living in a community with 50 pairs of eyes always around me and other people cooking my food has left me scrambling to adapt my game. But I can’t hide it anymore. I don’t want to. It’s a cold, hard, painful place to live. It’s a second job. Managing your food. Managing your fear. Managing the hungry shadows that bark louder and louder each time my Orgasmic Meditation partner puts his finger on my clit or a steak is put on my plate.

So here I am openly admitting that I am not recovered. Recovering. But not recovered. Perhaps I went into a bit of remission. Sure, since 2009 I have gained 15 pounds. I am no longer playing the how-close-to-under-a-hundred-pounds-can-I-get game. And though that may seem like “progress”, there is still a powerful anorexic inhabiting my mind—and the closer she gets to getting everything she wants, the harder she plays. The stricter her rules become.

The self-sabotaging, anorexic girl needs to stop. Or I at least need to make friends with her. So I have started seeing a nutritional counselor. It’s embarrassing for me to admit that I need help. That I am powerless to handle it on my own. That I am not really an inspiring leader to help others in their process of transformation, but just a tired, hungry woman with a lot of issues. But there you are. My little admission.

And in the spirit of full disclosure, I am writing this down for the world to read. Yes, I am giving up my game. Maybe a healthy dose of vulnerability will disarm the power the anorexic girl wields over me and then we can sit down together for a cup of tea.

  1. I eat by myself as often as possible. Pretty obvious, but this keeps anyone from feeling my hunger and watching me in my weakest moments of giving in to eating. It also keeps the annoying questions to a minimum (Is that all you are eating? What is that? Can I have a bite? Why don’t you eat meat? Want some of mine?)
  2. I prepare all my own meals. Again, obvious. It allows me to know exactly how many calories are in it and ensures that “safe” foods are only included.
  3. If I have to go out to eat, I try to go to a place that has some sort of “serve-yourself” buffet line. This way I can control what goes on my plate and portion sizes.
  4. I restrict certain foods from my diet in the name of health or personal intolerance.And the beauty of this one is that I can easily get away with it in our culture. We all know that we shouldn’t eat McDonald’s or sugar or too many carbs. Because Oprah/Vogue/Morgan Spurlock/my yoga teacher tell us so. So if I tell you that I can’t eat “that” because it has meat/soy/gluten/dairy/white carbs/sugar/non-organic/GMO products, you will completely understand, give me a free-meal pass, and no one will be the wiser.
  5. If I have to go out to a restaurant, I look at the menu online ahead of time and decide how I will mix-n-match my meals to include only acceptable foods. This way I won’t fumble in front of other people and give up my game. What’s even better is when I can call the restaurant in advance and find out what substitutions they will allow me to do.
  6. Since I live with other people, I hide the “good” foods to the back of the fridge and put the bad ones out front. This way everyone else will eat the “bad” food and the “good” will be leftover for my meals. Even better is when I can set the “good” food to the side somewhere, with my name on it, to ensure that no one will eat it.
  7. If I go out to eat and I don’t have the option to order a meal of only “good” foods, then order as much “good” food as possible, then give the bad food away. This not only ensures my safety, it also makes me look like a selfless and giving person because I am sharing.
  8. If I go out to eat with others, I convince them to order the “bad” foods that I am really craving and then order just a small plate of “good” food for myself. This way I can be around the “bad” food, maybe even ask for a bite (which is also a good cover for looking like I am a “normal” eater), but I am silently sitting back superior while watching others give into their animal cravings.
  9. I have my list of excuses of why I can’t eat ready. There are truly a million I could come up with, but the top ones include: I’ve already eaten, I’m not that hungry, I can’t have that in my diet, I am not a fan of that, I’m feeling sick today, I’m too tired to go out, I don’t have the money to go out, I cook healthier anyway, I’ve still got plenty of leftovers, etc.
  10. I stay in charge of the kitchen in all its aspects. Harder now, but still doable. That includes shopping for food, cooking the food and packaging the leftovers. This way I know what foods to offer others (the “bad” ones) and which ones to set aside for myself (the “good” ones). Also I can make sure that my portion sizes are acceptable (i.e. small) and offer bigger ones to others. This gets the food out of the house faster. Because there is nothing more terrifying for an anorexic than lots of uneaten food just hanging around the house. It’s like an alcoholic just hanging out at a bar. The constant call of temptation is only 20 feet away.
  11. I have lots of gum, mints, water, tea, coffee, vegetables, cough drops on hand. This keeps my mouth busy and my belly filled up so I don’t actually have to feel the real hunger underneath.
  12. I bring “safe” snacks in my purse for when I am “on-the-go.” This keeps the hunger away as well, especially if I am in an area of “unsafe” foods or end up at a restaurant with “bad” foods. What’s really classy is when I can sneak off to the bathroom, shove the food in my mouth while standing in the stall, then head back to my friends with no one knowing the difference. My rebel is satisfied, my hunger is squelched for a moment and no one saw me in my ugliness.

So here I am. Naked in my shame in front of my friends, family, enemies and strangers. Each day is a package of excruciating choices—this food and that food; in front of this person and not in front of that person; this indulgence and that restriction, etc.

Because as slick and sophisticated as this game is, I also know that a bigger one awaits me on the other side of addiction. One where I am acting in film with major Hollywood players. One where I am teaching Orgasmic Meditation to thousands of people. One where I am making a lasting impact on the evolution of human consciousness. One where I am building and fostering deep and intimate relationships with friends and lovers. One where I have the energy, speed and skill to keep up with the best players in the field. And one where I feel my true power and the freedom that comes with making friends with my appetite.

Quite frankly, I am just tired. Exhausted. I want to feel alive. I want to feel like I am surfing on top of the wave, rather than fumbling and drowning each time the ocean swells. I want to feel the thrill of surprise and the freedom of being in flow, rather than the bondage of fear each time my edges are stretched. I want to be a responsible adult—making a living wage and consistently being well-used in service.

This is where you come in. To keep me awake. For the price of playing a bigger game is the dropping off of the old one. And now that you know my secrets, I can’t hide anymore. I can’t slide back into lazy, destructive patterns that keep me small and safe. I have no choice now but to burn through this piece that has consumed the past 12 years of my life.

My friend gave up his entire game in exchange for just one secret from mine. Ketchup on eggs. And this one admission has changed everything.

I will make the same offer to you today. I have given up my game. If you want to play, I’m only asking for one secret from yours. You don’t have to post it to the world. You don’t have to tell me. You don’t have to tell anyone. All you have to do is tell yourself (that’s the only person that really matters after all). Write it down. Admit your dirty, little secret. Acknowledge it. Feel it in your body. Take the time to listen to what it’s saying. Why it entered into your life. What function it serves. What gift it has to offer.

You have little to lose (5 minutes and a sheet of paper) and a world of desire to gain.

150 miles on the back of a Harley: A Lesson in Trust

The Harley

Originally posted November 20, 2011

"Do you have patience to wait til your mud settles and the water is clear? Can you remain unmoving til the right action arises by itself?"
--Lao Tzu

I’m having a hard time trusting the universe right now. Or rather, it’s not that I’m having a hard time trusting—it’s more like “Why am I still here? Am I insane to trust this? Am I looking at the world with Pollyanna, rose-colored glasses?”

I got to San Francisco five weeks ago. Since then, I have had a falling out with one of my dearest friends, I can’t seem to find any reliable source of income to save my life, I haven’t performed on stage or film in months and the littlest things make me burst out in tears. I feel a profound sense of failure much of the time and a general confusion about who I am and what I am supposed to be doing in the world. All I want to do is go home and have my mother take care of me.

“Who’s gonna save me!?”

“When is it all gonna pay off!?”

“I’m a good person, when do I get to be in the spotlight?!”

I hear my whiny little victim voice. I pay attention to her, listen to her, love her, and then keep going back into the fire.  Where I face all the ways I steal energy from other people. Where I flash a lot of sexy bravado, but run away at the most tender intimacy. Where I take shortcuts in getting what I want rather than standing in my power and simply asking. Where I kill other people (with a smile on my face) because I am secretly jealous/threatened/insecure.

And I am supposed to trust that everything is being perfectly handled by the universe to guide me in fulfilling my sacred contract?

Well…yes.

A few weekends ago, I got an invitation to spend the night in Calistoga, right next to Napa. A night away from it all and among the beauty of wine country sounded like a dream to me, so I immediately said yes. The catch was that it was a 75-mile trip north and I would have to ride on the back of a motorcycle. Well, I’m a tough bitch, I thought, so that shouldn’t be a problem.

Whoa. First of all I had some intense gear to wear, plus a heavy backpack. Second of all, the seat can get mighty painful to your lady parts after straddling it for some time. And third of all, there is no freakin’ seatbelt (windows, airbag, protection, etc.) on that thing. It’s just you, the asphalt and a lot of metal zipping by you at 80 miles per hour.

This was an experience in total trust. I had to trust that my driver knew how to handle the machine and not play my usual helpful-but-fearfully-controlling-backseat-driver. I had to pay constant attention to the road and to the turns. There is no enjoying the scenic view and jamming to your favorite tunes. You lean when he leans. You brace yourself for the bumps as they approach. You hold tighter as he accelerates. You remain still and centered as he slows down. It becomes an intense meditation—and if you check out in any way, there is no reset button. So even though there’s cold rain and wind on my thighs and my feet are vibrating intensely and my shoulders ache and my wrists are sore from gripping him and I am silently freaking out as we inch past 50…60…70 mph, I just stay focused on the ride and don’t let go.

Because I know it won’t last forever.

So this is where I am now. Through the crying and depression and lack of focus and intense fears and ugly parts of myself, I know it won’t last forever. And it is a necessary step on my path in order to enjoy the warm bath and fine wine to come. And I know it’s worth it. I can feel it deep within my core.

My night in Calistoga was an extraordinary collage of wine, food, spa and landscape that was well worth the price of cold fingers and a sore butt. And when I look at my desires for my life (to create films that bring the taboo into light and find the gift within it), I think to myself, “ Well, I suppose I should actually feel what it is I want to express if I am going to express it.”

So now, this trust has become sort of a game. Can I actually love my crying fits? Can I enjoy feeling the pain of a thousand unfulfilled desires burn through me? Is there a chance to “get off” in this wet, slimy, hairy underbelly of existence that keeps pulling me down?

Really, the choice is clear. Anything less than a full, surrendered “yes” is a step back towards suffering and victimhood.

Incidentally, the 75-mile ride back down to San Francisco, was a LOT friendlier. The sun was out, I knew how to handle myself on the bike, I had a sense of how long it was going to be and I asked for towel to cushion my ass. I suppose life really is just a practice in exploring our edges and pushing our boundaries beyond our known limits. And then that which we found unbearable before, becomes easier to hold as we expand.

That is, until an even scarier ride comes along…and then we do the whole thing all over again.