What are you going as this Halloween? This time of year many of us experience a new sense of energy and excitement from planning a costume and then the performance of wearing it. Why can this feel like such a confidence booster? And why do we still look forward to it so much?
Costumes can give us a chance to literally try on a new personality. We walk differently, see the world though different eyes (or masks), we approach people differently – Because of this we feel things more intensely. The novelty of playing a new role opens us up to feeling our body in a new way. Maybe being limited by an awkward coat of armor doesn’t seem sexy on the surface but if it allows us to be more aware of how we move and to think more creatively about interacting with the world, that can feel sexy. Even within a giant pumpkin costume, you might be able to move with more freedom or stop worrying about looking stylish, which might open up a new way of being. Getting dressed or applying makeup causes us to look at ourselves with different criteria than we usually judge by and we may find something unexpected to like about ourselves. And most importantly, we interact with other people in new ways, shaking up old patterns that we have fallen into with each other.
Breaking out of our normal role brings an aliveness that feels good and it can awaken our sexuality. Depending on the character you are trying on, you may be more playful, assertive, silly, confidant, secretive or anything else. So how can you bring that energy to your sex life without waiting for a holiday? First I invite you to remember that anything you can do in costume, you can do in the bedroom –so long as your partner is on board. Maybe you already use role play and/or costumes as a part of your sexual play. But even if that doesn’t interest you, you can bring elements of a costume to your sexual self. Use your costumed persona this year as a way to strengthen a part of yourself – play at being more powerful, practice being silly, move like a goddess, act as though you have the power to cast a spell on someone. As you allow these parts to come out one night, you can allow them to come out other nights as well. This isn’t being fake or playing a part, it is expanding who you can be.
Sexuality can thrive on novelty and risk. Don’t reserve your risk taking for one night of the year. Commit to trying out new sides of yourself and to showing up in new ways with your partner often. You may be surprised at how well the risk pays off.
A few months ago I was asked to film a series of videos for YourTango's Ask An Expert. It was a good experience and the videos are just starting to be released. Here is the first one on " Are my Sexual Fantasies Wrong?". Check it out -
Throb blush wet glow thigh heat pinch brush feather worship
Sting neck pulse sweat slippery whisper groan expand breath
Open release building tension grab contract fur please reveal depth
Gasp guide yes mask flow salty laughter taste want display explode
Randomly pick 4 words from this list, then create a poem using them. Perhaps the poem will be about desire, but maybe not. Just let the words guide and inspire you and see what you come up with.
The United Nations Human Rights office recently released a publication calling for international human rights protections for LGBT people. The 60 page publication, titled Born Free and Equal, outlines five core obligations requiring national attention: protecting people from homophobic violence, preventing torture, decriminalizing homosexuality, prohibiting discrimination, and safeguarding LGBT people's freedoms of expression, association and peaceful assembly. If these recommendations are taken seriously it could protect and change lives for many people.
Some of the recommendations I am especially excited to see:
- Asylum laws and policies should recognize that persecution on account of one's sexual orientation or gender identity may be a valid basis for an asylum claim
- Repeal laws criminalizing homosexuality, including all laws that prohibit private sexual conduct between consenting adults of the same sex.
- Protect individuals who exercise their rights to freedom of expression, association and freedom of assembly from acts of violence and intimidation by private parties.
This statement is a huge sign of progress for human rights. The tides, they are a changing…
You can read and download Born Free and Equal: Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity booklet here.
I am in the business of helping people create changes in their lives - and survive the unwanted changes that come to us all. I know that change can be tricky. So often we have changes in mind that we know will improve our lives, we just don't know how to implement them. What I have found is often when people feel stuck, it is in part because they have lost sight of options and possibilities. They are truly stuck doing what they have been doing with no room to add something different. And that is one of the tricks of change - it always requires us to give something up too. Yes, change requires a letting go.
Let me give you an example that is common in my sex therapy practice : A couple comes to me because they would like to have more sex in their relationship. Now we will certainly explore dynamics of their relationship and ways to increase desire and self esteem and much more, unique to each couple. But what I can guarantee you we will talk about is what are you doing instead of having sex? Literally, what is this couple doing with their time? Because if they want to have more sex, they have to create more time for sex. In our culture, we tend to fill our time so I know this couple will need to make some choices about how they are prioritizing their free moments. And it will mean that something has to go. Maybe that is TV viewing time, or a workout a week, or the time it takes to cook a complicated dinner. But it will probably be something that they enjoy, something that will hurt a bit to give up, something that was working for them - just not as much as the desired change (more sex) might work for them. And preparing to make that change means addressing the reasons it is hard to make that change and what might be lost or left behind in making it.
Change requires us to make space in our lives for something new. But we tend to focus on what needs to be added and we can end up adding more and more postive changes to our lives until we hit the limit of the actual hours in the day. In preparing for a change your life, remember to ask yourself - what am I willing to let go of to make time and space for this change?
If you are interested in more ideas about making time for sex with your partner, you can read my article for YourTango.com "I Have You Penciled In...For Sex" at http://www.yourtango.com/experts/melissa-fritchle/i-have-you-penciled-infor-sex
Take a moment to think of someone in your life, either a real person you interact with or a TV or movie character, who you admire for their sexual energy and attitude. Picture them in your mind, moving through their life, engaging with thier partner or strangers. What is it you see in them? What do you like about the way they move through the world? Is there something about they way they use their body? Is it a quality of confidence? A certain attitude? Journal everything you notice about them, look deeply at what draws you to them or causes you to admire them.
Now imagine that that person is writing to you. Write a letter from them to you, that gives you advice about about how to move through the world with their attitude or confidence. What do you imagine they would say to you about the role of sexuality in their life? What strengths do you imagine they would see and admire in you? What would they encourage more of in you and your life?
Remember that this is all imagining. You are making up a story about this person. It is hard from the outside to know how a person feels about themselves or their sexuality. Sometimes the confidence we see on the outside can be deeply shaken from the inside. We just never know. But you can still utilize this person as a role model and allow them, as a character, to become a part of your internal support network. Let them inspire you to inspire yourself!
Most of you have probably heard by now about Missouri’s Republican Senate nominee, Todd Atkin’s statement that victims of "legitimate rape" don't get pregnant because "the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down." This false belief was being used as justification for denying rights to abortion for rape survivors. You may believe that one man’s misguided beliefs don’t affect you, but the shocking prevalence of flat out wrong information and limitations put around people seeking accurate sex information and education about sex deeply affects us all. In 2013, with all the clear science we have now, we need to ask ourselves –why would Todd Atkin’s still hold this false belief or (in the case that he was purposely giving false “facts”) why would he think that the American public would believe this? Because we are sadly and shockingly underinformed when it comes to sex.
Having taught Human Sexuality in Uganda, I saw firsthand the devastating impact on communities that had been given false information about their bodies and their sexual functioning. I worked with people who had been told that HIV is caused by an unmarried girl touching a man. I spoke to men who had been told as boys that a women’s vagina will trap and tear their penis. I talked with the people there who were taught to be afraid of sex and, perhaps more importantly, we talked about how even these terrifying messages didn’t stop the intrinsic and natural sex drive within them. The people I met in Uganda desperately wanted accurate sexual information; they said their lives were changed by it. And they wanted this for their communities to be healthier and happier. They took risks in being leaders in learning and sharing unbiased facts about sexuality.
In America, even in the liberal area I live in, students in my Adult Sex Ed classes consistently tell me that there was so much about their own body and sexual responses that they didn’t know and were relieved to learn. And I know from my therapy practice that the affects of misinformation and lies about sex go deep and can last a lifetime.
If you were upset by Todd Atkin’s statements, I invite you to use that emotion to empower and motivate yourself. Seek out good sex education, for yourself and for the children in your life. Go buy a book about your body and sexuality. Volunteer for a rape crisis center or an informational hotline in your area. Support scientific research projects. And, whatever your political affiliation, support political candidates who will use accurate, scientifically supported facts when making decisions about your sexual health. It is our right to be informed about our own bodies.
Join me for a fun night at Pure Pleasure Shop in Santa Cruz next Monday night. This will be a mini version of the women's workshop : Building Your Sexual Fire. In a few hours you will get a booster for your sexual energy...and remember all participants get a discount at Pure Pleasure the night of the workshop! Here is the info:
|8-20-12 Building Your Sexual Fire
7:30 pm - 9:30 pm
Whether you feel your sexuality is an ember or a roaring fire, this evening will invite you to celebrate your personal sexual energy and your body. Using guided visualization and tantric dance, we will invite more sexual energy into your body and into your life. You can channel this energy to ignite creativity and pleasure. Our gentle and easy practices will allow you to feel more life force while removing blockages to your sexual fire. You will leave this evening feeling more sensual, more energized, and more in tune with your body.
$15 advance/$20 walk-in* To register go to www.purepleaureshop.com
In the morning as I sat down to write my cat insistently, as is her way, demanded my attention. While turning around she hit me in the face with her tail several times, bumped my hands, stepped on the keyboard and became so overexcited about getting me to pet her belly, she fell off my lap in an undignified thump. After which she jumped right back on with the same enthusiasm as before, enthusiasm to love and be loved. And then I thought about my clients and how often in session I hear about how afraid they are to be seen as less than perfect, as clumsy or capable of mistakes. And how this leads them to hold themselves back, from their partners but also from their own enthusiasm and passion and therefore from their own ability to love.
What I hear a lot about in therapy are the limitations people put on themselves, the smaller and smaller worlds they create to fit in only the things they feel are acceptable. I see sex lives that have dwindled to a series of “safe” interactions that won’t require anyone to risk being embarrassed. I see couples who say that they don’t know each other anymore because they have each been editing what they say and do for so long. I see people starting relationships by hiding the fullness and complexity of who they are and squashing the wonder and fun that could be there.
When we are editing and watching ourselves with a critical eye, not allowing certain sides to come through, we are not fully available for our life. Enthusiasm and passion require that we throw ourselves in, flaws and all, and see what happens. They ask of us that we let our world be big, big enough to contain what may grow and develop. Whatever flaws you have are so much less important than the adventure you could be having if you let yourself. Love your flaws as a sign that you are fully present and engaging in life. If you don’t tumble off the metaphorical lap now and then, maybe you aren’t letting yourself love with enough enthusiasm.
What is it that you love about summer? What physical sensations do you enjoy? Do you love the feeling of sun on your skin or the heat the first moment you sit in your car seat? Do you smile when you hear a rollercoaster ride or crashing waves? How about the taste of strawberries or fresh basil? Start making a list in your journal of these sensations. Try to remember a few each day and as you write, really explain how the sensations made you feel and how your body responds to them. Utilize all five senses in your list, sight, smell, taste, hearing, and touch.
Bonus points : Take a look at your list and think of ways you can include some of these sensations into your sexual play. Be creative and let your sexuality be influenced and inspired by the season and the many pleasant sensations that already make up your day.