Posted February 8, 2014
Last year my boyfriend declared February to be Pleasuary.
Lucky me, he has declared this to be an annual tradition.
Pleasuary, if it’s not clear from it’s name, is an entire month dedicated to pleasure.
There’s no real reason this needs to take place during February, although Pluly or Pleptember just doesn’t sound nearly as fun.
If you’re inspired to join me in celebrating Pleasuary here are a few pointers:
Giving vs Receiving
Pleasuary is perfect for those in a relationship where one person tends to be the giver and the other tends to be the receiver. For heterosexual couples, it is often the woman who tends to give and the man who tends to receive. If you relate to this dynamic, allow yourself to shift the natural order things for the month. Wear a new groove.
Try this: Make a pact. For the month of Pleasuary your job is to receive. Their job is to give. Rest into it. It might feel awkward. It will most certainly feel good.
If you’re single, decide that you’re going up the pleasure you give yourself and instead of feeling guilty about this, set the intention to truly receive what is given.
Feeling Safe vs Feeling Alive
Feeling good comes from so many different sources and there are infinite shades of good feelings. It’s important to differentiate between the good feelings that come from being comforted and the good feelings that can come from being outside our comfort zone. Of course, we need a base line of feeling safe if we’re to dip our toe in more enlivening waters, but there is much pleasure to be experienced outside of our bubble of safety.
Try this: In your journal, brainstorm two lists: things that make you feel comforted and safe AND things that make you feel ecstatic, alive, and deeply pleasured. Then circle a few from each side that you want to make happen this month.
Quality and Quantity
This month is about both, quantity and quality. It’s about making pleasure part of the everyday. Upping the pleasure at breakfast. Upping the pleasure in our work. Upping the pleasure in the mundane and the extraordinary.
Try this: Make a list of 30 (or more) ways you want to receive pleasure and be about checking them off the list. Of course, spontaneity is also part of this so don’t let a checklist keep you from new and sudden bursts of pleasure receiving.
In terms of quality of pleasure, this is the result of deep and open presence. Even thirty seconds of pleasure can be knee shaking if we are truly present. High quality pleasure is like fine cheese or good chocolate, the experience is so much more satisfying. A little goes a long way when we allow ourselves to drop into receiving and the sensations of feeling good.
Try this: Set aside time to turn off all electronics. Tune into your body. Pleasuary is an adventure of discovering what exactly gives you pleasure. And, it’s important to know that you don’t have to know right now. In fact, you most certainly don’t know all the ways that you can experience pleasure. Play a sort of ‘Marco Polo’ pleasure game where simply allowing yourself (and your partner) to go towards what’s ‘warm’ and away from what’s ‘cold’.
Sense-uality & Indulgence
Pleasuary is not wholly about knocking boots. Pleasuary is about attunement of the senses to good feelings and expanding our capacity for pleasure.
Try this: List all the ways you might experience pleasure through your different five senses then attempt to saturate yourself with pleasure from all of these entry points.
The definition of indulge is to “allow oneself the experience of pleasure.” On that note, if you’re game for the Pleasuary, go indulge! Soak it in. Green light your enjoyment. Hand out the permission slips. Decide to taste, smell, touch, listen, and see it fully.
If you’re wanting more pleasure and enjoyed this post you can read more of my thoughts on feeling good in P is for Pleasure.
Posted January 20, 2014
Like clockwork, on the full moon, I have insomnia.
This past week when the sky was aglow and the lunar calendar was turning over a page I had an urge to listen to spoken word poetry.
From about two a.m. to five I drank up some of the most stirring orations I’ve ever heard. I love this slam-ing medium of communication. It feels like a river that runs below our surface of striving. When a spoken word poet hits their flow the performance piece fades away and it’s just raw, rolling emotive breath and sound.
Here are a group of talented, brave poetic women just saying it. Perhaps it’ll keep you company during your next moon-lit awakening.
Whoa line: “…still hoping that the mortician finds us fuckable and attractive…”
Whoa line: “…deny myself the right to be shown myself…”
Whoa line: “…Eve was made naked, no makeup, no weave…”
Whoa line: “…The body is not to be prayed for, it’s to be prayed to…”
Whoa line: “…’cause there is nothing more beautiful than the way the ocean refuses to stop kissing the shoreline no matter how many times it’s sent away.”
Whoa line: “Dear Cosmo: Fuck you! I will not take your sex tips on how to please a man you do not think my body will ever be worthy of.”
Whoa line: “I have been taught to grow in.”
Whoa line: “…women who will prowl 30 stores in six malls to find the right cocktail dress, but haven’t a clue where to find fulfillment or how to wear joy”
Whoa line: “When they call you full of yourself”, say, “Yes.”
Whoa line: ”…Van Gogh’s irregularities outweigh clean lines and clarity…”
Whoa line: “…Where are the words for the rest of me?”
Whoa line: “…It’s terrifying to have had to learn first not who I was but how I was seen…”
Posted January 14, 2014
As a child, if I couldn’t be assured that I’d do something right the first time, I didn’t even want to try at all. The result of this fearful stance was that I didn’t learn to swim (until I nearly drowned and my parents insisted) or to ride a bike (I’m still working on this).
What I’m talking about is the resistance we feel to being less-than-masterful at anything. We loathe performing awkwardly, even though this is a precursor to doing anything more gracefully.
Embracing our inner awkward toddler crucial if we’re to find our way to being well-fed. Like toddlers learning to walk, this is the two-step we must do: Toddle forward. Trip. Stand up. Toddle some more. Go splat on the floor. Get up. Toddle again.
Towards the end of 2013 I looked around my life and saw that everything was fine.
Fine is good.
Fine is important if we’re to function in the world.
But fine is not enough.
Feeling fine isn’t the same as feeling alive or particularly satiated. Fine is just fine.
What I know: the only way through to what’s really good in life is to embrace being awkward for at least a time.
In the spirit of embracing more of this energy in my life I’ve started back attending Laurie Wagner’s brilliant Wild Writing classes wherein we instructed to write poorly, pen to paper, and then share it with the group. It’s awkward strength training at it’s best.
This Sunday I’m attending my first 5Rhythms practice where for two hours I’ll move my often-less-than-coordinated body to the music amidst a crowd of strangers. I’m not sure if it will be a practice in managing my inner critic or the holiest fun I’ve had in my life–or both. I want to find out.
What you and I have in common is a hunger to feel alive. To feel more than fine. This I know.
As a little girl, my fear of being criticized trumped my hunger to feel alive, to have fun, to ride a bike, or to swim in the lake.
As a grown women, though, I’ve learned that external sources of criticism don’t matter and that I can soften around my own.
As a grown women, I’ve learned that being awkward is just one exhilarating step toward being well-fed.
Posted January 7, 2014
It’s an unexpected contradiction that after a month of making over my home – purging, deep cleaning, organizing, painting, new furniture – that the theme for January would appear to be: messy.
Now messy isn’t my word for the year, I’ll get to that in a minute, but it does feel like the word for right now. In order to find my groove I need to splash a little in the mud. I need to play a little more. Write more shitty first drafts. Dance a bit more awkwardly.
This morning my boyfriend told me he dreamt that I was standing naked in a house and all the walls disappeared and I was just standing there naked. The house was on a busy street and everyone could see me. In his dream I wasn’t concerned, embarrassed, or rushing to cover up. While there won’t be any nude photos to kick of the year, I like the sentiment of this vision: get more naked.
We’re all so practiced at wearing masked. We know how to please people, wow to show them what they want to see and hide what we fear might bring rejection. Your good at it. I’m good at it. I’m also good at taking off the masks. It’s a practice.
And it’s through this practice that I’ve come to know that bearing oneself just a bit more isn’t something we master. New masks are always itching to be put on. It’s just too easy to edit what’s real out of the picture. Yet when we do this–when I do this–what follows is always a longing to be seen, connected, heard, and free.
So in the spirit of taking off the mask and getting messy I’m ready to share my word for the year. It seemed fitting then to make an honest, unpolished, unrehearsed, unscripted, make-up free-in-my-pajamas-while-having-the-flu video.
Posted October 21, 2013
Imagine there’s a knock at your door right now.
You go and answer it.
It’s your mother.
How do you react? Not how should you react, but how would you really react?
Now imagine that happening all over except instead of your mother it’s your ex-lover.
How do you react? Feel it. What is your knee-jerk reaction?
Now imagine it again, instead of your ex-lover, it’s a policewoman.
How do you react? Really. What would your first reaction be?
Now do it again.
You walk over and it’s a singing telegram with balloons, flowers, and a box of chocolates.
How do you react?
I’m utterly fascinated with the moments of contact with our hungers.
There is so much to learn about what happens when one of our hungers knocks on the door and we answer it. Or maybe we don’t. Maybe we peer through the keyhole and decide to remain silent and still. Hoping it thinks we’re not home and goes away.
Maybe we answer and with tears of joy pick up the hunger and spin it around in our arms as though Publishers Clearing House Sweepstakes has just bestowed a windfall upon us.
Or we might open the door but as soon as our hunger speaks we plug our ears and say “Lalalalalalalala” in attempt not hear what it has to say.
It could be as simple as opening and shutting the door, with a quick ‘no thank you’ in between.
I offer you this meditative inquiry:
Posted October 7, 2013
This is a pali word that means empathetic joy. It is the happiness that comes from another’s happiness.
I think of mudita as the opposite of jealousy.
My meditation teacher, James Baraz, introduced the concept to me many years ago and it’s stayed with me as a powerful spiritual beacon.
In 2009 my sister got married and I spoke of mudita in my toast to the couple.
When it came to my sister’s marriage, mudita was an easy quality to cultivate. I was so genuinely joyful in response to her joy that it felt like breathing.
In Buddhism there are four “sublime attitudes” that, through spiritual practice, we cultivate: loving-kindness, compassion, empathetic joy (or mudita), and equanimity. It’s said that mudita is the most challenging of these “attitudes” to call forth.
I can attest to this. When it comes to situations outside of my sister’s marriage, this is where the rubber of the spiritual practice hits the road. Perhaps you can relate?
The other night I was scrolling through my Instagram feed. I like to do this before bed – catching up on the joys of people I care about and enjoying the day’s beauty from my favorite iphoneographers.
I ended up stumbling into a place I call ‘triggeredville.” Have you been?
There I was. Scrolling through the photos from a colleague of mine and her life seemed so perfect.
She sported gorgeous designer clothing. Her business appeared abundantly successful. Her marriage loving and harmonious. Her being: radiant and glowing.
I felt jealous. Not happy for her. Jealous and with a pit in my stomach. Taking a quick measurement–my life came up short.
The pit in my stomach was still there when I woke up the next day.
I named it. It was clear. I was triggered and jealous.
And it was an opportunity to practice cultivating mudita.
I chose to practice not because it’s easy. It’s not.
I chose to practice because my jealousy was based in illusions. The illusion that she has something I don’t or can’t. The illusion that there isn’t enough to go around. The illusion that she and I are separate…other from each other. The illusion that I am not enough. The illusion that my own hungers can’t be satiated. The illusion that her life was charmed and pain-free.
I chose to practice because I seek to live a life as awake from these illusion as possible.
I know these illusions create a separateness between myself and life and that separateness is a source of great suffering.
So I practiced.
I sat in witness of my thoughts. Noticing the spinning and the burning fire of comparison.
I sat in witness of my body’s reactivity.
I sat in witness of the stories that “she has it all (and therefore I don’t)” and “I’m not enough, because I don’t have…”
I invited in empathy, the ability to feel the experience of another. In this case: joy.
and even pain, as she, like of all of us, is not immune.
I empathized with her. Knowing her joy is my joy. Her pain is my pain. She is part of me. I am part of her.
I found pockets of life to practice. I stayed attuned to the physical sensations of jealousy.
I practiced not judging the jealousy, as it’s as human as a skin rash, but instead I chose to call forth a different state of being.
Mudita. Empathetic joy. Seeing clearly that your joy is my joy, your pain is my pain, and Instagram has a less than natural rosy hue.
Posted September 24, 2013
I keep a P.O. box for my business. It’s for my basic safety and peace of mind, as I’m required to include an address in the footer of all my newsletters which go out to thousands of people. Not all of whom I’d want an unexpected visit from.
Of course, I’m not talking about you.
You should come over for tea.
Where was I. Right. I swung by the post office earlier this week and discovered a letter that I have to share with you.
Dear Sweet Rachel,
It was exactly one year ago that you and I had a one-on-one. You may or may not remember that you presented me with a challenge. The challenge was to not weigh myself for one year. I remember at the time being overwhelmed with the challenge, especially given that I had purchased a scale several weeks before our chat. But after our call I made the decision to trust the process and stay away from weighing myself. So here we are, a year later, and to date I haven’t stepped on the scale. I just wanted to thank you – this past year has been quite the journey and I’ve just barely begun. I am grateful for you, your dedication to the work that God has designed you for!
Teary, standing by P.O. box 3433. Wow.
I was and am moved and honored and awed.
It’s events like this that reinvigorate me and rekindle my fire for calling women forth into Well-Fed living.
I’ve said it before, but it’s worth repeating: what we weigh is useless information. It tells us nothing of value. Just about everything worth knowing comes from inside of us. Knowing our weight is rarely ever about well-being. We step on the scale to measure our worth, to gauge how out of control we are (or feel) in our lives, and to help us make decisions we’re afraid to let our bodies make.
If you didn’t know what you weighed, what would happen? How would you know when to eat and when to stop eating? How would you know when to move your body and when to rest? How would you know if you were enough or too much?
You would listen. Ear to yourself and you’d hear “Feast. Rest. Trust.”
You would listen. Ear to your heart and you’d hear “You are enough, never more, never less.”
The scale takes you away from yourself. Giving it up brings you home.
If you’re ready to come home, but crave some support and someone to walk a while with you on the path, get in touch. I have a few spaces open in my coaching practice and always offer one-off sessions, like I did with this letter writer, to get you started.
I’d love to see just how free, embodied, and well-fed you could be.
Posted September 11, 2013
I remember studying for the SAT and getting particularly hung up on verbal analogy questions. For those of you who live outside of the States, the SAT is a test many high school students take before applying to colleges. The better your score, generally speaking, the better the school you can gain admission to.
Verbal analogy questions look something like this:
CRUMB : BREAD ::
(A) ounce : unit
(B) splinter : wood
(C) water : bucket
(D) twine : rope
(E) cream : butter
The goal is to determine which of the multiple choice answers is analogous to the relationship between the two items that are in all capital letters (CRUMB & BREAD).
You have to ask yourself, what is the relationship between CRUMB and BREAD?
The answer of course is that a CRUMB is a small piece of BREAD. You then remove CRUMB and BREAD from that sentence and see which of the answers fit.
______is a small piece of _______.
The answer, as you may have guessed is B: splinter: wood.
What does this have to do with being a Well-Fed Woman?
Literally everything I teach is about relationships. How we relate to ourselves. How we relate to food. How we relate to our bodies. How we relate to pleasure. How we relate to hunger and desire. How we relate to discomfort.
It’s all relationships. Relationships precede action. Relationships determine actions.
The moment of contact between two things determines everything that happens next. Do they bounce off each other? Do they embrace? Do they nuzzle up side to side? Do they say yes to each other? or no?
If you desire a better relationship with anything, make sure you’re viewing it as a relationship.
If you desire a better relationship with anything, slow it all down and see what’s happening at the point of contact.
Try it for yourself. Pick one of the following options to create your own mock SAT question:
I: MY HUNGERS
Now pick the option below that’s most analogous:
(A) Harry Potter:Voldemort
(B) Bert: Ernie
(C) Cold War Russia: Cold War USA
(D) Bunny’s Mother:Runaway Bunny
(B) The English Language:Gibberish
(C) Fred Astair:Ginger Rogers
(D) White Spy:Black Spy (from Spy v. Spy)
(G) Switzerland: Non-Swiss Conflicts
(H) Treasure Hunter: Treasure Map
(I) Two Peas: Pod
This might seem like a silly exercise. It kind of is.
Though in all seriousness, the relationship we have to ourselves (and to our hungers, our pleasure, our bodies, etc.) is such a powerful determinant of how fulfilling our lives will be.
Relationships are dynamic, they don’t remain in one stagnant form. If you’re wanting a better relationship with yourself, or any of these things I’ve mentioned, you can live your way into that better relationship.
Start with how you greet yourself in the morning. Is it kind?
Start with the tone in your voice when you talk to yourself. Is it warm?
Start with saying “yes, my love” when your body requests rest. It generally knows what’s best for us.
Start with prolonging any activity that gives you deep pleasure. Pleasure is a sign we’re on the right track.
Start with speaking up for yourself…yourself who is your friend.
If you want a better relationship, start by viewing it as a relationship to begin with, then be inside of that relationship in a harmonious and kind way.
And here’s the kicker: our relationship with ourselves, determines our relationship with others.
Yes, we tend to be kinder to others when we are kind to ourselves, but perhaps more importantly, abuse from others becomes intollerable when we are not in an abusive relationship with ourselves.
If you see the picture above, the one with the plug and socket, you’ll see a perfect analogy for what I’m getting at.
Our relationship with ourselves molds our “socket” and only plugs that fit can plug in. (Ever tried to plug an American plug into a German socket? Take my word for it, doesn’t work)
Because I’m in a loving relationship with myself, anyone who might seek to relate to me as anything less simply doesn’t fit. It doesn’t compute. I’ve created the mold.
I talk to a lot of women who doubt their lovability. I used to be one of those women. In fact, I didn’t just doubt my lovability, I outright believed that I wasn’t lovable. Overtime, though, I decided to love myself and my own “socket” changed shape. Overtime, I came into relationship with myself the way I wanted others to relate to me.
What kind of relationships are you in?
Posted August 13, 2013
In a few weeks I’ll be embarking on my second Ease Hunting journey.
I love Ease Hunting because the experience guides me, and those along for the ride, to ways of being more at home in my life, just as it is right now.
The experience – the lessons, the practices, shared conversations, and new ways of seeing – leaves me feeling and living better, without asking me to do a life makeover.
It’s quite beautiful and I for one am so very ready.
As the leader of Ease Hunting you might think that I live in a constant zen state. (Chuckles to self). Not so. I’m like everyone. Practicing the best to ride life’s waves.
Lately, say for the past week or so, I have been depressed.
This is something I experience maybe twice a year and yet when it comes around I’m always taken by surprise.
The symptoms are fairly classic and can be summed up as a “fog of meh.” Can you relate?
Initially I fought it, like we tend to do. Anxious about the book proposal I’ve committed to writing. Worried that my lack of spark would hurt my business. Wondering how with a life as rich as mine I could feel anything but elation.
No surprise, just like a Chinese finger trap, fighting it did not work.
So for the past few days I’ve been taking a page from my own Ease Hunting playbook and surrendering. It’s not effortless, but I know it’s the direction of ease.
This kind of surrender doesn’t have me throwing in the towel and watching Project Runway all day. Though that has it’s place in my funk for sure.
This kind of surrender, aimed at bringing me real ease, is about gentleness, self-compassion, and moving slowly but with curiosity. This kind of surrender is about hot baths (San Francisco is chilly this time of year), allowing my body to melt on my yoga mat, and telling the truth. I learned long ago that wearing masks always rob of us ease.
Sure, I’d prefer to be feeling a bit more zestful, but I have found a certain kind flow even here, just by allowing myself to be and paying attention. In fact, I can have all the preferences I want about my life, but they are just that, preferences.
The “fog of meh” is loosening its grip slowly. I’m able to be with my clients in a soft, present, and even, powerful way because of how I’m being with myself. I’m finding pleasure in the kitchen. I’m savoring the August Break.
Wherever you are today, perhaps on your beach vacation, or scrambling to get your kids ready to head back to school, I want you to know, even if you don’t have the summer blues, that you’re not alone and that life doesn’t have to change for you to feel more at home in it.
If you’d like to go deeper into discovering ease in your life. I hope you’ll join me. I have so much to share and would love to walk the path with you.
Shall we exhale together right now?
1 – 2 – 3.
Posted July 31, 2013
Last week I went for a walk in Golden Gate Park, something I’ve really been enjoying lately.
It was around 4 o’clock when I was winding down and noticed that I was hungry.
I had big dinner plans at 6 the kind you want to show up to ready to eat heartily, but I was hungry at 4.
This was not convenient and it got me thinking about the inconvenience of hunger.
Whether for food, play, freedom, rest, or relationship – our hungers don’t care about what we’re doing or what our grand plan is for life. Our hungers almost always have a new plan for us.
Here were my options: deny my pre-dinner grumblings and be gnawed at and cranky – or – eat something, potentially taking away some of my precious appetite for dinner.
I could resist or I could surrender. In fact, I could choose either option with the energy of resistance or the energy of surrender. The color of my experience depended on my attitude.
So I ate. It wasn’t part of the perfect master plan, but it was my body’s plan. My body and I have a pretty good thing going, so I do my best to heed it’s call.
In my work I often see my clients resisting their true hungers because they aren’t convenient. To feed them would disrupt the status quo. To feast would mean taking off the mask, or being more vulnerable in relationship, or leaving the secure job, or not meeting the deadline. It would mean change and change brings the unknown.
Here’s the thing though: our hungers aren’t here for our convenience. They are here to tell us what is most needed now for our body, heart, and spirit’s well-being.
This is also the difference between easy and ease. It’s easy to keep doing what we’re doing. It’s easy not to ruffle feathers.
But it’s ease that we’re given when we’re deeply fed. It’s ease that we feel when we stop resisting what’s calling us – be that an afternoon snack or to pick up a paintbrush.
Do you have an inconvenient hunger?
Where are you choosing easy over ease?
Has there been a time when your hunger’s plan was better than your own?