For Soulful Babes on the Path of Self-Discovery: 9 Books You Should Gift Yourself

One essential part of my self-care practice is gifting myself. Periodically, I’ll treat myself to a little something that makes my eyes sparkle—a form of desire hunting.

I do this for myself for two reasons. . .

(1) It’s a small (but mighty!) acknowledgment of my desires.
(2) It’s a simple gesture of taking care of myself.

When I feel taken care of, I show up better in my world. I show up better to my work, to my relationships, & to the connection I have with my body & senses.

Actually, one of the assignments I frequently prescribe my clients is the gesture of doing something nice for themselves, something seemingly frivolous that they wouldn’t have done otherwise. Sometimes that’ll look like taking a long, hot bubble bath or buying a piece of jewelry they spotted on their way home.

The importance isn’t in what they gift themselves necessarily, it’s in the intention behind it.

I’d like to invite you to gift yourself.

Below, I’ve listed 9 of my favorite books (+ one not-book) that I read this year. And at the end, I’d like to suggest that you gift yourself one of them.

Because you’re awesome. Because you’re beautiful. Because you survived a challenging, intense year. Because you love yourself. Because you deserve a little something-something.

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// Sex & Sexuality

If you want to begin (or continue on) your sexual liberation journey. . . Treat yourself to Women’s Anatomy of Arousal by Sheri Winston. You’ll learn about your glorious clitoral erectile network & how your arousal works; you’ll learn the importance of having a sexual relationship with yourself first & foremost; & you’ll learn how to communicate your desires to your lovers (there’s even sections that give sex tips to clueless guys). A must read.

If you want to titillate your erotic senses. . . Hunker down for an evening & read some juicy erotica. My favorite is Anaïs Nin’s Delta of Venus, but Nancy Friday’s My Secret Garden is also sinfully delightful. Light some candles. Cosy into a warm blanket. Put on some sultry music (maybe FKA Twigs’ Kicks). Let your mind wander.

If you want to play around with the sacred side of sexual release. . . Gift yourself a Chakrub. It’s not a book, but it’s quite the gift of love. I’ve gushed at great length about these amazing pure crystal sex toys, & have recently given my clients the Sacral model as a gift to their own incredible work toward sexual liberation. (Psst! Use the code ‘SLL10’ at checkout to get 10% off your purchase.)

// Love & Relationships

If you want to uncover a kind, loving relationship with yourself. . . Pick up Marion Woodman’s Coming Home to Myself. Part poetic, part sage wisdom. Lots of poignant passages that’ll likely be your new mantras.

If you want to explore spiritual intimacy with your male partner. . . Read Dear Lover by David Deida. Each short chapter is written as if they were a collection of letters from a man to his lover, & I couldn’t get through one without bursting into tears. It’s sentences like these that fill me with longing & pleasure: “I want to drink your love & dive into your heart & take you open to God.” Yes, please.

If you want to expand the idea of love within all areas of your life. . . The Mastery of Love will crack you wide open. Give it a read if you want to come back to a cleaner, freeing, playful expression of love—love of your body, love of the people around you, love of yourself.

// Liberation & Self-Discovery

If you desire to unearth your deepest, wildest feminine wisdom. . . You must read Women Who Run With the Wolves by Dr. Clarissa Pinkola Estés. If you’ve been looking for your inner Wild Woman; if you’ve been craving to reclaim a sense of deep inner knowing; if you respect the origins of a good myth, this book is for you.

If you want to learn some secret, ages-old, feminine-centered knowledge. . . Treat yourself to The Woman’s Encyclopedia of Myths & Secrets. Did you know that the original meaning of the word ‘witch’ is ‘wise woman’? Did you know that the word ‘bitch’ was one of the most sacred titles of the Goddess Artemis? Did you know that the left side of the body, in terms of myth, is considered feminine? I knew none of this until I cracked open this book.

If you are a woman of color & want your soul to be stirred by gorgeous, tender, & feminist poetry. . . Get Nayyirah Waheed’s poety book, salt. This book has changed me forever.

Listen to this:

you
will drown
if
you do not have boundaries.
they
are
not optional.
this structure
counts
on your inability
to
say
no.
mean no.
they take no
from
our
first breath.
go back
and
return it to your mouth.
your heart.
your light.

— swim | women of color

Psst! If you buy from her Etsy store, Nayyirah will inscribe a personal message inside the book to you. I also recommend you follow her on Instagram.

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There’s a lot of hidden empowerment within the act of indulging yourself. It’s a beautiful expression of self-love.

So, which one of these books will you gift yourself? Send me a tweet & let me know.

Honoring My Personal Winter

personalwinter

everyday // tordis kayma

Around this time last year, I wrote the following letter to my list. I stumbled upon it again as I was going through my email’s archives, & I’m sharing it here because even though it’s a year old, it resonates very strongly with where I’m at today.

It’s been a very, very busy year for me; lots of movement & changes. But things are slowing down, & I am being asked to do the same.

I actually did a tarot card reading yesterday that really brought home what my mission is for the remainder of the year: solitude, rest, isolation, & letting die what must die were huge themes. And that’s what I plan on doing with the rest of my December.

So, this post is a celebration of that, my personal winter, & a reminder for you to honor your own.

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It is a cold, foggy, crisp day in Portland, Oregon, & I am thinking of you.

I’ve been in my own little world these last several weeks, dealing with some personal things & coping with the aftermath, & then also realizing how profoundly in sync I’ve become with the seasons—currently, winter.

I have found myself waking up most days with an urge to lay low & stay inside & be anti-social & introverted. My creative side is not showing up very frequently, nor are my Muses; I believe they are hibernating just as I am trying to.

I’m also in the process of deep contemplation & introspection about the next phase of Sex Love Liberation, one that involves way more of me than ever before.

So that’s why I haven’t been writing as much, that’s why I haven’t updated the blog in a little while. I am going through a period of fallowness, of turning inward, just as the trees are, just as the sun in, just as the bears are.

It’s so important that I honor my natural cycles—both the vibrant & the dormant.

What my days consist of as I honor my personal Winter:

// sleeping in & snuggling my partner & pup
// eating hearty, nourishing meals
// keeping my work light & giving all of my creative fire to my clients
// nesting: cleaning house, cooking meals, tending to my hearth
// putting on headphones, tuning out the world, & listening to good jams
// reading Women Who Run With the Wolves (again)
// not being a social; allowing myself to stay indoors & not talk much
// drinking lots of tea
// Tarot & divination
// not pressuring myself to do creative but instead to just be in creation

I’ve been thinking a lot about how SLL has been for me an outright expression of my own personal liberation; how talking about sex & sensuality & desire & my intimate relationship spurs in me a desire to be curious & a full expression of who I am.

And I often judge my process by thinking that if I’m not do-ing overt things to fuel my own sexual liberation—like writing about porn or having multiple orgasms—that I’m not being liberated.

But the most powerful thing I’ve come to understand this year is this:

Self-liberation isn’t just expressed through the do-ing. It is in the be-ing.

Feeling, processing, intuiting. Releasing, listening, honoring. All are expressions of liberation.

I say all of this not just to make a point to myself as I’m grappling with the pressures to be what I am not & do what I cannot, but to give you permission to lie fallow or to process or to honor or to feel if that is what you really need right now.

It’s so easy to dispute or discredit. But allowing yourself time to lie fallow & do the quiet, seemingly unbusy inner work, is not only courageous, it acts as bright illumination on your path to liberation—be it sexual, sensual, personal, emotional, or what have you.

I heard it said once that if we tilled the farm lands day in & day out, without rest, we’d kill the soil, zapping all of its nutrients & yielding some less-than-nourishing foods. Our bodies, our purposeful work, our elusive creative Geniuses operate in the same way.

There is a time to produce, & there is a time to regenerate. Seasons exist for a reason.

Remember that.

Remember that there is sacredness in following your natural rhythms, in doing less now so that you can do more later.

Sunflowers & Make-Believe: Discovering My Sensuality As a Child

sunflower

sunflower // annemiek groenhout

One of the fondest memories I have is when my sister & I were kids & used to play in our backyard & pretend we were Pocahontas. We created teepees out of pine trees with low hanging branches—we each had our own designated spot—& the the two of us would get on our hands & knees in the desert dirt to nurture the little plants (i.e., weeds) to grow with water & song.

Our stuffed animals were the woodland creatures, our clothes (old rags & blankets my mom didn’t need anymore) were animal skins, & we would dance in our fortresses in our bare feet, stomping ceremoniously on pine needles & dirt clumps. We’d make mudpies & leafy vegetable soups, & pretend to stoke bonfires with tiny twigs as kindling & a magnifying glass to create small billows of stinky smelling smoke.

Once, a sunflower randomly sprouted in my teepee, & over the next few months I watched with wonder as it transformed from bland stalk to brilliant blossom. One day, out of sheer curiosity I crouched down & plucked one of the tiny black seeds out of bloom & ate it. It was so delicious, unlike any sunflower seed I had ever had, & I spent the rest of the summer lying underneath that sunflower & slowly eating its seeds one by one right out of the bloom.

Those moments I spent in my “teepee” as a child, making up songs & nibbling fresh sunflower seeds, were some of the most sensual of my life.

I was never taught about sensuality as a kid. I was familiar with my senses, that was a lesson I was given at great length, but what it meant to be sensual was never touched on. I can’t even recall hearing the word sensuality until I was far older (& when I did it was attached very sloppily to sex).

But clearly, I was a sensual girl, naturally; I didn’t need to be taught, it was innately within me—all I needed was curiosity explore & time to play, & I had more of those things than I needed. Especially time. Minutes traveled much slower when I was a little girl, & I seemed lose myself in every second of what  I was doing—playing, creating, make-believing—while savoring every single moment.

Fast forward to now. . . Gone are the days of lying on my belly to watch ants commute to their homes. I find myself moving so fast in a world that moves even faster than I, & time is of the essence. There’s shit to be done, commitments to fulfill, & deadline to meet. My to-do list often tries to dictate the way I live my days.

Of course, in these moments of fastness, self-care gets thrown out the window. I forget to eat. My temper is short, my patience sparse. Everything feels hurried, detached, helter-skelter.

When I am disconnected from my body & senses, life merely becomes a sequence of events rather than rich, well-savored moments.

And I deeply desire the well-savored moments.

I want to get my hands dirty. I want embraces to overwhelm me with love & warmth. I want to lose myself in moments of creation, without distraction. I want the sex I have to transfigure & swoon all of my senses. I want spaciousness & pauses & sighs of pleasure.

I want to taste every note of sweetness in moment, in the same way I nibbled tiny sunflower seeds in my fortress as a little girl—with slowness & indulgence.

It’s very clear to me: The enjoyment of my life depends very heavily on my ability to slow down, to embody, to feel a connection to the world around me.

That, in essence, is sensuality. And I believe that it is my birthright. Yours, too.

So, how do we get there? How do we, inhabitants of a fast-moving world & participants in a culture that doesn’t always foster living with our senses, get back to our birthright? What does that look like in practice?

I’ll tell you. In the next post.

What Does It Mean To Be a Woman?

woman

makeup // catalina montaña

This is a question came up twice for me last week: once in my sensuality e-course, & another in a one-on-one session between me & a client. In both cases, it stumped us.

As soon as I heard that question, my mind began to fill with all kinds of proverbial frou-frou images that have, for most of my girlish life, represented woman: red lipstick; panty hose; shoes that go clip-clop! as I walk; pearls; tulle; eyelash curlers; pink bows; Victoria’s Secret’s super padded push-up bras; Chanel No.5; oven mitts.

But I know better. These are just things, empty tropes that have senselessly carried the weight & sacredness of adult femaleness for centuries. I see these “emblems of womanhood” & feel an instant sense of disconnect with them, because I know that there is a lot more to a woman than what brand of perfume she wears or where she buys her bras—simply because there’s more to me & my womanness than the perfume I wear or the bras that I buy.

Oh, I wish it were that simple. If only I could just by a tube of lipstick, a lacy bra, & a frilly skirt, & then—bam! Sensual adult woman activated! Wouldn’t that be nice?

And while it is true that those emblems of womanhood can contain within them an essence of the womanness one seeks, they’re only meaningful when they are worn, embodied. Otherwise, they’re just perfume on a shelf, bras on a clothes hanger. Empty.

So if being a woman (& I mean the essence of a woman, not the caricature of one) is not found in the lacy bra or the frilly skirt or the sugar, spice, & everything nice look & feel. . . then where is it & where can it be found?

What does it mean to be a woman?

Here’s what I think.

I think what it means to be a woman is as vast & varied as the women who claim the word themselves. I think that the expressions of womanhood are truly unique & intimate & personal, & cannot be defined by any one person—that is, not without using some of those empty tropes I mentioned above, which, as I’ve seen, can be useless.

I think that if anyone on the planet ever says to you, “Look here, being a woman means this & this & this!” run in the opposite direction. I don’t believe that anyone has any jurisdiction in telling you (in telling me) what it means to be a woman. Yes, even if she herself is a woman.

I don’t think that we can ask that question “What does it mean to be a woman?” without also asking “What does it mean to be who I am?” Because your womanness is intrinsically tied into the truth of who you are—all of your quirks, all of your traits, even the ones that are not soft.

I believe that if you incarnated into this life as a woman, if you claim that word as yours (regardless if the claiming is done with pride or uncertainty), it is your task to define what it means to be woman. Namely, to uncover who she is—who you are—in your own way, on your own terms.

So how do you uncover her? You give her safe space for her to be conjured. You honor her presence whenever you feel her pulsations inside of your body. You open yourself up to feel the pulsations of her inside of your body. You embody the truth that you are already a woman, that there is nothing that needs to be done or applied.

That’s a start.

I like to ask this one question whenever a client of mine is unsure of her womanness (or “lack of”):

When do you feel most like a woman?

I love this question because it has an air of lightness to it, much more than “What does it mean to be a woman?”, & there’s all kinds of curious things within its answer(s), things that can help her (you) to begin that journey of uncovering & actualization.

So, when do you feel most like a woman?

As for me. . . it’s true that I tend to feel most like a woman when I’m sporting red lipstick or when my hair looks just right or when I’m baking a pie. But mostly, the essence of my womanhood comes out when I feel at total home with myself. When I am unabashedly in my body—every crease, curve, & freckle. When I am honoring all of my inner rhythms—including the ones that feel dark or “unlady-like.” When I am tuning into my inner voice. When I’m speaking my truth.

My womanness includes much of the frou-frou images mentioned above, yes, but those things do not define me as a woman. And that, for me, is liberating, because it’s exhausting (not to mention unsustainable) to put such precedence on products or symbols & not on my own inherent magnificence.

I am a woman because I say so.
And so are you.

I Am A “Too Much” Woman

Press play above to listen to me read this article aloud to you. Player not showing? Click here.

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Note: This writing is inspired by & dedicated to all of the Too Much women I have worked with, who, very bravely & against all odds, rise.

There she is. . . the “too much” woman. The one who loves too hard, feels too deeply, asks too often, desires too much.

There she is taking up too much space, with her laughter, her curves, her honesty, her sexuality. Her presence is as tall as a tree, as wide as a mountain. Her energy occupies every crevice of the room. Too much space she takes.

There she is causing a ruckus with her persistent wanting, too much wanting. She desires a lot, wants everything—too much happiness, too much alone time, too much pleasure. She’ll go through brimstone, murky river, & hellfire to get it. She’ll risk all to quell the longings of her heart & body. This makes her dangerous. She is dangerous.

And there she goes, that “too much” woman, making people think too much, feel too much, swoon too much. She with her authentic prose & a self-assuredness in the way she carries herself. She with her belly laughs & her insatiable appetite & her proneness to fiery passion. All eyes on her, thinking she’s hot shit.

Oh, that “too much” woman. . . too loud, too vibrant, too honest, too emotional, too smart, too intense, too pretty, too difficult, too sensitive, too wild, too intimidating, too successful, too fat, too strong, too political, too joyous, too needy—too much.

She should simmer down a bit, be taken down a couple notches. Someone should put her back in a more respectable place. Someone should tell her.

Here I am. . . the Too Much Woman, with my too-tender heart & my too-much emotions.

A hedonist, feminist, pleasure seeker, empath. I want a lot—justice, sincerity, spaciousness, ease, intimacy, actualization, respect, to be seen, to be understood, your undivided attention, & all of your promises to be kept.

I’ve been called high maintenance because I want what I want, & intimidating because of the space I occupy. I’ve been called selfish because I am self-loving. I’ve been called a witch because I know how to heal myself.

And still. . . I rise. Still, I want & feel & ask & risk & take up space.

I must.

Us Too Much Women have been facing extermination for centuries—we are so afraid of her, terrified of her big presence, of the way she commands respect & wields the truth of her feelings. We’ve been trying to stifle the Too Much Woman for ions—in our sisters, in our wives, in our daughters. And even now, even today, we shame the Too Much Woman for her bigness, for her wanting, for her passionate nature.

And still. . . she thrives.

In my own world & before my very eyes, I am witnessing the reclamation & rising up of the Too Much Woman. That Too Much Woman is also known to some as Wild Woman or the Divine Feminine. In any case, she is me, she is you, & she is loving that she’s finally, finally getting some airtime.

If you’ve ever been called “too much,” or “overly emotional,” or “bitchy,” or “stuck up,” you are likely a Too Much Woman.

And if you are. . . I implore you to embrace all that you are—all of your depth, all of your vastness; to not hold yourself in, & to never abandon yourself, your bigness, your radiance.

Forget everything you’ve heard—your too much-ness is a gift; oh yes, one that can heal, incite, liberate, & cut straight to the heart of things.

Do not be afraid of this gift, & let no one shy you away from it. Your too much-ness is magic, is medicine. It can change the world.

Don’t believe me? Check this: All of your favorite women, the ones who’ve made history, the ones who’ve lent their voices for change & have courageously given themselves permission to be exactly who they are—some examples: Oprah, Ronda Rousey, Danielle LaPorte, Beyoncé, Kali, Misty Copeland, Janet Mock, Mary Magdalene . . .—they’re all Too Much Women.

So please, Two Much Woman: Ask. Seek. Desire. Expand. Move. Feel. Be.

Make your waves, fan your flames, give us chills.

Please, rise.
We need you.