Tag Archive: body movement

Hello! It’s been a long while since I last posted something for my Notice Pleasure project but it is, in fact, still happening. Welcome back!

So. Some stuff that came up for me recently:

  • The importance of having back-up plans – these the “substitute” in my alliterative, alphabetical titling practice
  • The idea that it’s actually okay to give up when something’s isn’t working how you wanted it to

In my last post under this tag, I talked about having the responsibility to (a) not assume what my partner wants from/of/with me, and (b) communicate what I actually want/need in the moment rather than… defaulting(?) to pushing through something that was uncomfortable just because it wasn’t dangerous. And this sort of relates to that, as well as to the permission slip I granted to myself about three years ago.

I have a habit of pushing through stuff that’s uncomfortable in order to not inconvenience or disappoint the other people who are involved in whatever-it-is… but also to… not disappoint myself?

  • Voicing that my hips are sore and I’ll need to stop/rest soon, but downplaying how sore they are or exactly how close to the line between “my hips hurt all the time, I can keep going” and “No, I seriously need to sit/lie down immediately” I likely am.
  • Trying to work around muscle cramps or emotional distress because I really want to try XYZ activity, or stay present for the whole group ritual, even though the physical/emotional discomfort is making that really difficult and I’m not getting as much out of the activity or the ritual or whatever because of this other thing I’m going through.
  • Pushing through pain or fatigue or whatever because I want to get to a particular “finish line”. Yes, sometimes that’s “If I keep doing this for a little longer, my partner might get off”. But sometimes it “If I keep doing this for a little longer, I can say I rode my bicycle the whole way home rather than getting off and walking the last three blocks”.

Which is to say: Sure, some of this is “I don’t want to disappoint someone else” but a LOT of it is “You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take / coffee is for closers / Quitters never win”.

And, yeah, I recognize that the language I’m using there is the kind of stuff that shows up in the kind of motivational speaking that’s basically just capitalist apologetics. But I’m also kind of coming at it from the perspective of someone who has always had trouble with momentum and finishing things and who, frankly, uses long-form blogging as an accountability buddy (thanks everyone!) to make myself keep taking concrete, measurable steps towards any given goal.

It’s very, very easy to give up. Especially when you’re a white, middle-class, cis woman who mostly had Gay Rights by the time she figured out they applied to her. That Banksy quote – “Learn how to rest, not how to quit” – applies here pretty heavily.

I’ve known for years – thanks mostly to Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha and the late Corey Alexander – that people take rest breaks during sex. That this is normal and enjoyable and makes sex a lot more fun. But embracing it as a thing that I can do – a thing that I’m “allowed” to do – has been a lot harder. And, just like the option of taking a rest break has been difficult to embrace, it’s also been hard to accept, and encourage, things like “changing position just because my leg is cramping” or whatever.

But there’s a point where I go from “let’s see if this irons itself out” to “everything is terrible and I hate this and am miserable” and… there’s not a lot of room between those two points. Which means that, particularly in contexts where I’m trying something new that’s supposed to be fun, it’s worth it to – yes, sure, challenge myself, BUT – get comfortable with stopping a thing before I hit “everything sucks”.

If I keep things on “easy mode”, stick to the bike paths, pre-plan spots where it will be easy and comfortable to get off the bike and rest for 10 minutes, or where it will be more comfortable to walk my bike than try to keep pedaling… I’m more likely to enjoy going for bike rides, and I’m more likely to build up the strength and endurance that will get me to the point that pedaling up that hill, or breezing right by that rest stop… feel fine. Maybe even good.

And, like… in a sexual context, the goal isn’t like “faster, stronger, etc” the way it might be with biking or weight training or whatever. But there’s definitely a carry-over there. So, for example, I got to spend Beltane with a partner in a fancy rented chalet the woods north of Ottawa. Which was wonderful (tehre was a sauna!) but which was also the woods north of Ottawa during the last weekend of April: Meaning that it was bucketing down rain and not very far above freezing for most of the time we were there.

I think a lot of what made that weekend as great as it was boiled down to our having made some back-up plans for how to accomplish x, y, or z ritual intention if our plans for how, or even where, to conduct the ritual… weren’t working. We can’t do a burnt offering in the fire pit or the outdoor wood stove, because it’s 3C and pouring rain. But we can burn things in the firebox of the wood-burning sauna, and then hang out in front of the gas fireplace and light some candles. We can’t make waffles Florentine for Beltane breakfast because I left a couple of necessary tools at home, but we can do poached eggs and goat cheese and steamed spinach on back-up crumpets.

I have – as I’ve surely said before – a terrible habit of treating “X didn’t work the way I wanted it to” as “I have FAILED at X”. And just… WOW is it easier (not easy, but easy-ER) to not feel like a total failure when you build a back-up into your plans.

Like: If I don’t have to tools/time to make waffles, I can still make pancakes using the waffle batter.

Like: I want to do this yab-yum kind of eye-gazing, grinding, sex thing but if my hips and knees can’t handle it, this alternative position will still get our hearts lined up in a way that will help us energetically accomplish what I’m going for.

Like: Can you bring your ankle cuffs so that we have an extra option, just in case the rope tie that I practiced on myself turns out to be massively uncomfortable for your feet.

So what’s my take-away here?

Building in room for adaptive devices, back-up positions, rest breaks, and alternatives makes it easier to experiment and try new things in a sexual (or non-sexual) context, because I am less likely to put a bucket of pressure on myself to have The Thing work perfectly[2] the first time I/we try it out.

Which, itself, makes experimenting more fun and less emotionally fraught, which means (I think) I’m more likely to experiment, take little risks, and see what happens.

Which, on the whole, I think is a good way to go.

Notice Pleasure: The smell of crab apple blossoms on the hot, sunny, Saturday breeze. Her head pillowed on my shoulder. Making out. Doing a guided meditation and just letting my hands wander over my body as they’re inclined rather than trying to keep them still. First ice cream cone of the season. Heat and sunshine after two weeks of cold and rain. Floating in a hot tub and having the heat and weightlessness take the pressure off my hips for the first time in 48 hours. The smell of her neck. Relaxing into the coast of a down-hill stretch, no work and all speed. The way their bodies fit into my arms differently but both just right.


Ms Syren.

[1] For real. I may not be able to do much with the kind of stripper pole I have in terms of dancing – I’m probably about 60-70 pounds heavier than it can handle, and I’m definitely eight inches (or more) taller than the users it’s actually built for – but it’s great for things like getting up out of a lunge, stepping over a big suitcase, or other things where balance and/or weight distribution are a factor in how well I can do them.

[2] For a given value of “perfectly”, I know. But I’m also a giant perfectionist, so “perfectly” is pretty reliably going to be defined as “unreasonably high expectations for sexual pleasure emotional connection, and a lack of physical pain”. Which: That might be something I talk more about in a different post, but who know.

So, hey there! So I’ve spent the past… five? months under the impression that I’d already done “O is for [something that starts with O]”, but it turns out I didn’t! So this one’s an easy prompt to jump on. Here we go!
Maybe you remember this post, where I talked about orgasms being a thing that involves some active work on my part when I’m… “aiming for them”(?) with a partner.
I still feel slightly odd describing this as both “practicing” and “aiming for” Having Orgasms, in significant part because I’m trying not to think of sex – or sharing sexual experiences, if we want to be more explicitly broad about what I mean when I say “sex” – as a goal-oriented thing, because I don’t want to end up back in the headspace of “I’m going to Let Someone Down if I don’t achieve/perform/display XYZ Experience”, I am trying to think of it… I guess kind of the way I approach new knitting projects? I know. Not the sexiest thing in the known universe (even for me, and I mean…) But, when I start a new knitting project, I tend to approach it with this kind of a mindset:

We’re going to try X Thing and, if I get it right the first time? Great! But if I have to start over a few times, that’s still fine. I still get to have the fun of knitting a thing and experimenting and trying to challenge myself just a little bit while doing something I enjoy.

…And, when I approach sexual receptivity with this same kind of mindset, it helps me to avoid sort of… over-focusing on “I must obtain/provide X Result” and makes it much easier to enjoy my experiences. It seems to be working, at least so far, and some related good news is that I feel a lot less embarrassed about doing that physical work now!
Go me!
Other good news is, basically, that dental dams are the Gods’ gift to people, such as myself, who get over-stimulated really fast and benefit from having some kind of protective ozone layer between their bits and the vacuum of space a lover’s mouth. We like dental dams. Dental dams are GREAT. (PSA: If you’re in Ottawa, and have a mailing address, you can get 10 of them FOR FREE here).
I feel like this project is working. Like, I may or may not ever actually squirt. I think that would be really cool, I’d like to do it and, while I’m still definitely doing that “in-jaculation” thing that I (briefly) discuss here, I do think it’s a possibility. My voracious, unapologetic desire still manifests via my teeth, my guzzling, Moray of a mouth, my jaws more than my cunt, but a year into this project, and a little past the “half way point” on the alphabet prompts, I do feel like I’m making the kind of progress that I want to be making. I’m seeing encouraging results, and I’m having more fun (and more sex, which is key).
Definitely something to celebrate.
Notice Pleasure: The slide of sweaty bodies. My breath in her lungs. The swell of blood drops when the needles come out. Her cunt gripping my fingers. The muscular shift from hard work to be automatic when I get the movement of my hips just right. Hungry kisses. Her clit in my mouth. Her thighs under my feet. Her heartbeat under my tongue.

So I feel like I’m making some progress in terms of sorting out what’s working and, when things aren’t working, the things that I could do to get them to work better.
Stuff like:
Oh, hey, getting vigorously fucked while lying on my back can feel amazing, but sometimes it means that my hands start to go numb and/or something WEIRD starts happening with my face. Still. (This has been a thing for a looooong time, and relates to the disc problems in my lower back. I have a rough idea of how to fix that situation in the moment, but (a) it’s a pretty rough idea, and (b) it means that there are positions that make things easier for my hips that I still, unfortunately, have to avoid if I don’t want to have, like, muscle spasms in my face or difficulties controlling my jaw).
Oh, hey, orgasming is a fairly active thing that I can just “lie back” and wait to have wash over me.Oh, hey, I feel embarrassed – for some reason? – doing the visible, physical work it takes to get myself off with a partner, but it still needs doing and X position makes it much easier for me to do those things than Y position… AND ALSO: Oh, hey, there’s also a bit of a balancing act (mental? physical? emotional?) going on in order for me to both be relaxed/open/receptive enough to get turned on and to a place where orgasming is an option – as in I’m not being so, uh, “goal oriented” that I start to spin and fret about “Am I Taking Too Long” (and similar) and end up kind of jack-knifing into hypo-arousal/numbness/”I’m Just Not (sometimes literally) Feeling It” – while also being active/goal-oriented enough to recognize and do the things my body needs to do – move which muscles how? shift in which direction, when? – in order to… be able to do something with all the energy building up in my body, basically, so that I can do something voluntary and enjoyable rather than just get overwhelmed by it.
Oh, hey, mentally treating Sex With a Long-Time Partner as though it were pick-up play at a party – with explicit suggestions of activities and negotiations about how a thing is going to go – actually helps me get around some of my mental/emotional blocks when it comes to sexually engaging with someone after the NRE Hormones have quieted down and it starts getting harder (for me, in some instances) to move from fond affection (that could just as easily turn into snuggling and falling asleep) to specifically erotic affection and related Sex Things.
So it feels pretty good to be figuring things out.
Which… I guess might make you wonder why the heck I would have titled this blog post with “What Even Is ‘Normal’ Anyway”, right?
Well, part of it was just “I wanted to stick with the alphabet prompt”. For real.
The other part was, when I first started chewing on what to write for this post, I was thinking about a conversation I’ve been having – in various ways – with one of my partners and a couple of my friends, about “What does a (my?) ‘normal’ sex life look like, once the NRE calms down?” and “How much is ‘enough’ sex, both to be satiated with and to want?” but also “am I – like, me, specifically – going to stay (sexually/socially) Interesting if I’m not sluttier than I am?” and “I seem to be very interested in this stuff, and enjoy talking about it and exploring it – I mean, obviously, I’ve got a blog dedicated to it, so – but I’m worried about getting embarrassed about how much I think about this, or what I want to talk about, and find myself not-so-able to have these conversations thirty years from now…”
Basically… Look. I am probably over-thinking this, but I feel a bit like the two women my personal “sexual Normal” bounces off of are kind of at opposite extremes so, while I’m pretty sure that my Middle Aged Queer Lady sexuality is somewhere in the middle of the Average Allosexual Spectrum (whatever that actually is), I sometimes feel like I’m either “too slutty” OR “not slutty enough” (which, itself, is not an unusual thing for a middle-aged lady, queer or otherwise, to be feeling[1]) or, more than frequently, both at the same time.
So it’s nice to figure out some (more) ways to engage with, and experiment with, my partners while also kind of figuring out how to be and do the level of slutty I want, even when I’m not entirely sure what that level actually is, or if it’s going to stay more-or-less constant for the next little while.
Like, yes, I know stuff fluctuates. I know that Perimenopause, which is probably going to show up in the next 5-10 years, ye gods, is going to Make Some Changes (though who knows what direction those changes will go in). I know that NRE can sometimes be contagious, that engaging in professional exhibitionism leaves me generally feeling powerful and glamourous, and that these various reminders that I’m desirable make it easier for me to express desirousness, regardless of who I’m expressing it to.
These are good things to know.
A few weeks ago, I got to visit my girlfriend. Which was wonderful in many ways and, on top of all that, she sent me home with some shiny new books to read. One of them was about Sigil Magic. One of the first questions the author asks the readers is “What do you want?”
And I found myself afraid to take a really good look at myself and see what the answer was.
What if I want the “wrong” thing??
Between the above couple of handy discoveries and my questions about “What’s My Normal?” I find I’m having similar fears about, I don’t know… About presuming to have any idea about What I Want in any kind of long-term sense.
Which, itself, is maybe kind of weird?
Like, on the one hand, Why am I expecting myself to be able to foretell my own future like that? and, on the other hand, Why do I think that I need to?
Like, I’m aware that I want to get my personal “perpetual motion sexuality back up and running. I like being a person who likes, wants, and engages in sex with a moderate degree of frequency, wherein “moderate degree” is, like, 1-3 times per week… I think? With some wiggle room in there for busy/tired/sick on one end, and “going to the kink convention this weekend” at the other, without falling into entropy during the day-to-day of my real life OR relying too heavily on those annual, multi-day parties to bring that average more in line with What I Want when it comes to things like frequency and intensity.
But I’m also aware that, were I given the opportunity to get my game on multiple times per week… that I might not actually want that?
I’m literally not sure whether “1-3 times per week” is an accurate guess based on what my body/stamina is likely to be able to handle PLUS what my libido is likely to spark over, or if it’s a guess based on a certain degree of scarcity-thinking, kind of like the opening number in the Oliver! musical, or like those Early Kink Fantasies where what you imagine wanting is probably a lot more intense than what you’d want In Real Life, if Real Life was an option.
So while I do think I’d enjoy having a more active partnered-sex-life, I’m hesitant to be like “This is my goal!” partly because said goal, by nature, involves more than just me, but also because… what if I’m wrong?
I keep thinking about that article I read, going on 25 years ago now (the things you remember…), one night while babysitting somebody’s kids. It had a title like “We had sex every day for a year!” and how much of what stuck with me about that was just… how tedious, tiring, and annoying it became, much of the time, for the author and her monogamous partner to keep up with that commitment.
I think about how sex is no place for “should” or “must”[2] and how there’s absolutely room for – ironically, must be room for – “I don’t feel like it” or “Not right now”.
But I also think about how easily I fall into “I’m tired” as a stand-in for “I’m afraid of failure” or “I’m afraid of rejection”; about how A is for Action, how I need to relearn things again and again, and how I need to make myself keep moving, keep taking those tiny baby-steps towards who and what I want to be, and be doing, lest I stall out, get scared, get embarrassed, and run away from my hopes, dreams, and goals. (It’s one of the reasons I blog about stuff and do Projects with writing-prompts that are also action-prompts. Because it’s a way to keep myself accountable to finishing a thing, however long it takes me).
So I ask myself: What do I want right now?
Like the tarot cards I pulled for the recent full moon, I need to frame this as “awakening through playfulness”.
My “Normal” isn’t something I am necessarily going to be able to predict in advance. Maybe it’s something I have to track, moment to moment, and sort out after the fact.
Notice Pleasure: Kissing her collar bones. Making out in the museum stairwell. Morning snuggles. Feeding each other. Coffee on the back steps. Story Time on the front porch. Having my hair washed. Pre-planned spankings. Flirting by text. The way she shudders when I fill her lungs with my breath. The way she groans when I suck on her tits.
Ms Syren.
[1] Which… I’ve read plenty of the “get your groove back” variety of sex-self-help books. They are primarily aimed at hetero, vanilla, monogamous people and, as such, they tend to treat “my normal” (kinky, polyamourous, bisexual), the stuff that I’m fretting about not wanting/doing/being enough of, as their target audience’s “Beyond the pale levels of Too Much” which… is alienating, to say the least.
[2] Outside of power play, at least. 😉

Okay. So it’s been a couple of weeks, as planned, and I’m continuing my Notice Pleasure practice/series. The point of this is to get myself to a place where I can reliably either (a) just not freak out, but more likely (b) get myself out of a shame/shut-down/panic kind of situation during sex. I want sex to be fun. I want to be able to bottom sexually and enjoy it. And part of that is trying to develop some shame-resilience by doing an explicitly sex-and-pleasure-focused gratitude practice (see the actual Notice Pleasure section at the bottom of these posts) that is also kind of part mindfulness practice as well. It’s making a point of noticing what feels good/hot/yummy/sexy/fun/pleasurable. It’s making a point of paying attention to that and (hopefully – this is definitely a work in progress) following those tasty feelings towards more of them. With any luck, this will help me develop a bit of a compass or a roadmap or…something so that, if I get a little lost while engaging with a partner, I have a better shot at finding my way back to the fun, the pleasure, and the connection[1] without derailing everything due to Feeeeelings.
And, like everything I do, this is basically a practice that mixes blogging (processing my experiences enough to turn them into words), magic, and physically doing The Thing.
My wife tells that I do “cognitive behavioural witchcraft” and… she is not wrong.
Anyway. So: What have I been doing for the past two weeks in the name of magic, blogging (well… not so much the blogging, that’s happening right now), and physically doing The Thing?
Whelp. Due, in substantial part, to these experiences, I’ve been doing a lot of yoga (thence the alphabet prompt of “lift and lengthen”).
I’ve been making a point of directing my attention to my perineum and doing Bottom Breathing (this sort of relaxed “open” deep breaths that people do as a matter of course while sleeping, and that “engages the pelvic floor”), both in ritual contexts and just as a sort of mindfulness practice that I do multiple times a day.
I’ve been doing (for a few days) instructed yoga, via youtube. Doing routines that the instructor designs with one’s root chakra or pelvic floor or hips-and-heart in mind. Doing Moon Salutation[2] (and also dancing to pop music) in the mornings, because I wake up in my body when I dance or otherwise unlock the knot at the base of my spine.
I feel silly as heck saying this, but I’ve been… “jerking off mindfully” (I’ll probably talk more about that when I do the “M” prompt, so… sit tight, I guess), if I can put it that way, doing something that is sort of related to Mula Bandha but isn’t exactly that.
As far as actually “lengthening and lifting” go, other than striving for a really good, grounded lift when I’m doing poses like Bridge and Bow, I’m trying – and often failing – to keep a bright, dicernable connection between my root chakra and my heart chakra when I’m doing, in particular, seated or squatting poses.
I’m finding that I can either keep my focus in the bowl of my pelvis OR I can put my focus higher up. But trying to keep a connection going is difficult, and sometimes… gives me weird, cramping shoulder pain??
Which, tbh, is reminding me of the body feelings I had twenty years ago when singing started getting hard.
Anecdote Time!
So. I have sung all my life. There is a recording of me, as a toddler, successfully and intentionally carrying a recognizable tune.
I started taking singing lessons when I was seven. (When you’re seven, singing lessons are as much about learning to love the learning process & keeping music fun as much as they’re about actually learning technique). Seven years later, in my early teens, I switched teachers, and started shifting – because my body was literally, finally, getting physically mature enough to handle doing this – towards a more intense and thoughtful practice.
Seven years after that, my Dad died of cancer, and about a year after that, I stopped singing.
Not just “I stopped taking singing lessons”.
I. Stopped. Singing.
And I only really went actually silent for about six months.
But that was still pretty close to twenty years ago, and coming back to my voice has been a difficult and on-going process that has a lot of self-consciousness around “making noise” and shame around having “left” in the first place tied up with it.
One of the things that happened… around that… was that I found I couldn’t take proper singers’ breaths without getting a sharp pain in/across my middle trapezius.
Now, I have no idea what was going on there.
But it still happens.
When I try to deep breathe low into my abdomen and fill my lungs up all the way, while also trying to maintain good, upright singing (or “lengthen and lift through the chest”) posture, I am still getting that sharp pain in my traps.
Maybe this is due to just… not breathing right? Like, am I over-filling my upper chest instead of filling my lungs all the way down? Maybe I need to engage my core muscles more?
I have no idea. But it’s a thing and I’m noticing it happening during these yoga routines when I’m trying to sit up tall AND keep my roots in the ground at the same time.
Hopefully I’ll get better at this with time and practice?
Anyway. That’s what I’ve been doing, for the most part. I’ve also been doing some experiments with using anointing oils[3] on my body, asking for things I want to take (in the Wheel Of Consent sense of the word “take” – see link – which is not the same as asking for things that I want to receive, because in these instances I’m still doing the doing, but it’s still an important thing to keep up), and trying to be more active in my glamour practice which, itself, pertains to the whole Union Of Opposites thing I talked about here.
But, mostly, it’s been yoga.
Notice Pleasure: Puddles of warm sunshine coming through the kitchen window. The sound of water running in the street as the snow melts. The thwack of flogger-falls against skin. Naked snuggling. Touching feet. The joy that courses through me when I’m dirty-dancing with the door-frame for support and able to throw my weight around because I can trust my house to not fall apart on me and let it take my weight.
Ms Syren.
[1] That’s Brenee Brown again. The whole “spectrum of vulnerability” where shame is at one end and connection is at the other, and where – essentially – feeling down on myself because of Whatever is going to impede my connection to other people. Which, like… I “do” sex with partners because I want emotional (and physical, but my main love-language is touch, so the physical is still emotional for me) connections with them.
[2] For reasons that have nothing directly to do with my sexual-emotional health, but which involve a lot of squats and back bends and pelvic lifts, all of-which should help my lumbar region get stronger and, ideally, less constantly-in-pain. And that’s not going to hurt my quest to more readily and easily access my own Sexy. So.
[3] This is what I do with my perfumes, now that I tend not to wear them out of the house. Now You Know.

Head Over Heart Over Hips

Okay, the subject-line of this post is a slight paraphrasing of something that Adrien – of Yoga With Adrien – says in order to get her watchers/students to get their spines aligned nicely. (It’s a very different thing for me to hear “head over heart, heart over hips” or similar than to hear the bark of “Sit up straight!” which… semantics, but also maybe somatics? Like, it’s helping, so I’m going with it).
As-you-know-bob, I’m pretty damn woo. I’m also a singer who accidentally learned how to do chakra-based energy work while learning how to support and project my voice in my teens. If my teacher knew that she was also teaching me how to spin my personal energy centers while she was teaching me vocal technique, she didn’t bring it up. And I sure as heck didn’t know I was doing it until Someone Who Can See That Stuff (I am a concrete bunker, essentially) said to me: “So, did you know that, when you’re preparing your body to sing [as in: perform], your chakras are lighting up one by one, in order, from root to crown?”
And I was, like, “Oh. … Well I guess that explains a couple of things”.
And here we are.
I read my latest tarotscope, which was super-relevant to this whole Notice Pleasure alphabetical prompts “heal your sexuality” project I’ve got going on. Nice. And I took its advice – sort of – and looked up a quicky little Root Chakra Meditation video and followed the instructions in a kind of approximate way while doing some humming low in my vocal range and… I keep coming back to this stuff for a reason, apparently.
Because something happened.
Like, it wasn’t anything big. It was just… “Oh. There’s movement here. Oh. Something is kind of freeing up in a way that I was really not expecting here. Oh.”
And so I looked up some related stuff. I looked up “root chakra yoga poses” and, among other things, found out that a lot of my go-to “ten minutes a day” yoga poses are ones for opening up and balancing your roots. Poses like Bridge and Warrior 2 and Child’s Pose. Wide-legged forward folds and deep squats. And I started watching the Grounding Into Gratitude Yoga With Adrien video (because see last post, basically) and she did that initial spinal alignment pose – which I did in a modified way, because I’m sitting in a chair for this – and… I started laughing. Like, laughing with delight and also feeling a bit weepy?
And… here’s the bit that is kind of weird? My vaginal muscles started doing things. Like, this kind of rhythmic, involuntary squeezing? And I started getting, like… wet, leaky, something?
And… I mean, I wouldn’t call it orgasmic, by any stretch of the imagination. But it was definitely a tension-release that, in a different context, could have been very sexual.
Which. Huh…
That’s pretty relevant to my interests over here.
So. Okay. Message received. I’ll just keep doing the thing, then?
Heh. A friend of mine talks about how, when she’s on the right track, The Universe tends to let her know in some fairly specific ways.
But I’m kind of having A Feeling about this?
Like, maybe the message is literally just “Oh, hey. Don’t twist your spine into a pretzel for ¾ of your waking hours” with a side order of “Reminder: You actually do have to feel safe and secure on a physical level BEFORE you can start having these vulnerable energetic communions with other people, and that’s not actually weird or broken, that’s just good sense”.
But I’m going to keep doing this. Head over Heart over Hips. It makes me think of the Land, Sea, and Sky souls in Ecstatic Witchcraft. Which… maybe it’s time to look that up again? Maybe?
Just maybe.
But for sure: More humming. More extending my roots down into the ground. More breathing into my root chakra. More spinal alignment. More.
Notice Pleasure: Well, those vaginal contractions probably qualify. Other than that? Flutter of kisses across my ribs in the morning. Dark chocolate melting on my tongue. The smell and taste of summer veggies – especially red peppers – pulled out of the freezer and roasted with salt and sage a white wine. Receiving love letters full of supportive words. Taking a minute to call up the remembered scent of roses. The brush of my long hair against my bare back.

In a TED talk I watched recently, Esther Perel talks about the poetics of sex, the ingredients of desire. Meaning: novelty, curiosity, playfulness, imagination, and mystery. In the video, she talks about looking at a particular population of trauma survivors and she said that this group could be divided into “the people who didn’t die, and the people who came back to life”.
What she said was that “the people who didn’t die”, specifically because of the hyper-vigilance and the anxiety (the PTSD, by the sounds of it) that they couldn’t process or mitigate, these folks weren’t able to access the ecstasy (my word, here) of the erotic. They couldn’t fly.
Whereas “the people who came back to life”, she said they understood the erotic “as an antidote to death” and were able to reconnect to their own vitality, vibrancy, renewal and so-on.
And, I mean, I think she’s using “erotic” in a broader sense than specifically and only being about sexuality – maybe more like Audre Lorde does when she talks about “the erotic as power”:

“The erotic is a measure between our sense of self and the chaos of our strongest feelings. It is an internal sense of satisfaction to which, once we have experienced it, we know we can aspire. […] For the erotic is not a question only of what we do; it is a question of how acutely and fully we can feel in the doing. Once we know the extent to which we are capable of feeling that sense of satisfaction and completion, we can then observe which of our various life endeavors bring us closest to that fullness.”
Audre Lorde – “Uses of The Erotic: The Erotic as Power”

But either way. It’s this idea that this thing, this experience, of connection and flow, playfulness and vitality, is a thing you can consciously turn towards?
I mean… when I try to do this in an active way, the results are pretty unreliable. But in theory, once we’ve experienced the level of satisfaction that comes with so fully engaging our whole selves, we can find the way through to experiencing it again.
I think.
…I think.
Anyway. Esther Perel – who is defining “erotic” as “The ability to stay connected to oneself in the presence of another” – took the above observation about “the people who came back to life” and started asking her sex-therapy clients some questions.
Which I’m going to try to answer, for myself, right here and right now. And I’m going to try not to be so self-defeating about it all.
I shut myself off when: I feel dread. I’m afraid I’m taking (or will take) too long to respond in ways that are satisfying for my partner. I’m afraid of rejection. I think my desires or my sexual responsiveness is insufficient. My body hurts. Things get too intense (or too intense, too fast) and I don’t know what to do with the excess energy.
I turn off my desires when: I think my desires will be threatening to my partner. I think my advances would be unwanted. I think my partner’s invitations are insincere/performative/duty-bound/”just-being-nice”. I think my desires are inappropriate, outsized, or too much. I’m embarrassed by my… wantonness(?) or I’m ashamed that my desires/arousal is outpacing that of the person/people I’m with.
So that was the sort of easy bit? Like those are what I came up with without really having to think too hard about it.
This next bit is… a little bit harder.
I turn on my desires when: I’m by myself. A chosen partner expresses desire in/for me through their actions. I believably (uh…?) have permission from a given partner to express my desire for them. I feel wanted and wantable. I think my desires are socially acceptable? (Yeah, there’s a question mark on that one, because it’s not always the case). I’m not afraid. I know there’s a limit to what will be expected of me (I’m not sure this is the best way to put this? But I’m going with it for now) sexually.
I “wake up” in my body when: I dance. I feel good in my body/skin. There’s no pressure (I get that this is generally internally-generated pressure) on me to rush into something involving my own genitals, but I’m engaging with someone sexually/erotically (making out is an amazing example of this). I eat really tasty food and give myself time to actually enjoy what I’m eating. I’m being touched firmly but gently in ways that cover a lot of surface area (this could be sitting in a hot tub or it could be receiving a body-slide, there are options). When I feel strong and aware of what my body is doing (uh… I’m thinking of certain figure modeling poses here, tbh. Like… ones that look really graceful, but involve a small degree of core-strength engagement and awareness, but that don’t need to be held for more than about 15 minutes, so there’s low-to-no risk of nerve compression). When I do kundalini yoga. When I have a really good vocal warm-up.
Which… Like, there’s a lot more stuff on that second list than I was expecting there to be.
That’s a nice thing.
Maybe I need to get the stripper pole out of the corner and try some of those (very, very basic) tricks I learned 10 years ago… Ha… But it could be a fun thing to do.
Notice Pleasure: long kisses, long hugs, the quiet humid dark of a sanctuary bath, being noticed by people whose attention I want, soft warm bedsheets, hours of snuggling, slow-build sex with a reactive partner, flirting.

In My Body… Or Not

I started taking singing lessons when I was seven. When your body is your instrument, you need to be in it all the way. Now I work as a model, and being aware of my body as it exists in space, is a big part of the job. I have (relatively minor) back and joint pain that, for the most part, just doesn’t go away.
You would think that this would mean that it’s easy – maybe not always pleasant, but easy – for me to be In my body all the way.
I’ve actually prided myself on the assumption that I am In my body all the way, and that it’s easy for me to do, that it’s normal or second nature.
… And I realized about a month ago that this is not the case. Not really.
I realized that the part of my body that I occupy, that I think of as “me”, that I can be In without having to think about it or work at it is… not very much. It’s the part from my arm-pits up. Sometimes I go a little lower than that – although that might also just be an awareness of where my bra sits all the time? – but the part of me that I think of as “me” is… my arms and hands, my neck, my shoulderblades and traps (at least the tops of them), my shoulders, my neck, my face, my scalp, my head.
It explains a lot.
Like why I tend to Notice other people from about the same point up and don’t pay a tonne of attention to the rest until after I’ve decided “Oh, I think that person is pretty”.
Like why I like going down on my lovers to the degree that I do, and (okay, there’s more than one reason for this) it’s so much easier to have someone’s junk in my mouth than in my cunt.
Like why my lovers feel “so far away” when their hands/mouths/attention are focused below my waist.
Like why kissing is SO Amazing and is my favourite part of sex.
Like why wrapping my arms around someone feels so intimate.
So here I am, going “Ohhh…” and wondering how to change that. How to be a whole-body experience all the time.
Suggestions welcome.
Ms Syren.

So, about four months ago, maybe five, my wife formally came out as sex-positive asexual. The way she describes this is “It’s like… I love food, it tastes great, eating is wonderful, sharing a meal is fantastic… But I never get hungry”. Basically, any time she’s inclined to pursue sexual interaction with someone, it’s because she’s made an intellectual/emotional decision of “Oh, hey, don’t mind if I do,” rather than because her body is sending her physical cues that translate in her unconscious brain as “Maybe this would be a good idea now”.
It’s a good analogy. One that I’m planning on stretching all out of shape over the course of the coming post.
Yeah. In the going-on-six years that I’ve been with the woman who is now my wife? I’ve generally been the “good partner”, meaning that I’ve tended to be the one who didn’t need constant reassurance, or late-night crisis counseling, or otherwise demand that she be On Call for emotional and psychological support 24/7. For good or for ill (oh, for ill…), I’ve put a lot of store in my “status” as The Good Girlfriend, the one who was NEVER Too Demanding, or High Maintenance, or Neurotic, or whatever. The one who could, more or less, process her own crap most of the time.
And, right now, that is emphatically not the case.
Blogging, as they say, is cheaper than therapy. I did a tarot reading, almost a month ago, that basically said “Honey, get out of your own way”. So I’m going to blog about this, and talk a little bit about where my head is at, and how I’m getting in my own way.
Here goes.

So. If my lovely wife describes herself as “never getting hungry”, I’ve personally felt like I’ve spent the last couple of years, well, starving. Hungry to the point that I’ve forgotten what “normal hunger” feels like and don’t even notice it until I’m shaking and having trouble staying upright.
Recently, I’ve come to learn that:

A) What I thought were pleas for food (“food”) so loud and obvious and desperate that they were laughably pathetic in their naked neediness, were actually so subtle – or so easy to lose in the generalized “all smoulder all the time” signal that I’m apparently constantly putting out (really?) – that my non-Ace partner couldn’t spot them either.

B) All the things that made it difficult for my wife to cook (“cook”) with me? Those are still factors. She still has constant joint pain. I still have constant back problems. Our respective ideal sleep schedules don’t overlaps as much as we’d like. She still has as many partners as fingers and we all have a claim to some of her time, energy and attention. That hasn’t changed (much), it’s just that now I know there was a root cause underneath all of those factors that played a larger role than I ever knew.

C) I’ve buried my need to eat under so much shame and guilt (“I shouldn’t be this hungry, she’s not hungry, what’s wrong with me?”, “Stop pestering her for food, she obviously doesn’t want to cook, just wait ‘til she’s at work so you can eat crackers without her having to see you doing it”) that I seem to have developed some kind of an eating disorder where being offered food, sure, fills me with longing… but it also fills me with aversion and the distinct impression that I probably won’t be able to digest that, no matter how much I want to eat it.
…Which, I think, probably stretches the “hungry” metaphor to the breaking point. Moving on.

When my wife got shop space outside of the house and was able to Quit Her Day Job (more or less) and work for herself full-time, I had high hopes that my over-worked, exhausted beloved would suddenly have the extra time and extra energy to come back to me and be my sexual partner again.
And she did.
Maybe not in the way I was expecting. I wasn’t particularly expecting a “Honey! I know what’s up with me! I never wanted you sexually in the first place! But also I still love you and do want a sexual relationship with you, even though I’m not wired to feel sexual desire!” (I’m paraphrasing, although not by much)[1].
Cue a solid MONTH of trying to find a way of talking about this that didn’t send me into a complete tail spin. (This is where the “never feel hungry, but enjoy food” analogy came from).
What I’m saying is that she did come back to me, sexually. She started making advances. She started flirting with me a lot more. She was trying, and still is.
But I was running smack into a wall of rage and resentment that I hadn’t even known was there. Telling myself that she didn’t really want me[2], couldn’t really want me, so why was she faking it for my benefit? Telling myself that, if she’s faking it for my benefit, and I’m faking it for her benefit (so she feels like a good partner, so she’s not wasting her efforts), why the fuck are we even bothering? Why can’t we just fall asleep in each other’s arms like we’ve been doing for years? Why can’t I be left with my loneliness and sadness which, while they suck, are at least things I know how to fucking deal with??
Note For Readers: I do not actually want to be left with my loneliness and sadness. They suck, and they are not improving with time.

It’s easy to get angry. It’s SO easy to think things like “Why do you even care? It’s not like it’s any skin off your back if we NEVER FUCK AGAIN!” So easy to think “Oh, sure, after years of NOTHING, years of broadening my definition of “sex” to the point that I could claim “two minutes of making out, in a four-month period” as a reason to believe we were still sexually involved, NOW you expect me to turn on a dime, rebuild all of the desire that I fucking squashed out of existence, and act like none of it ever happened?”
Maybe she was expecting a dam to burst, too.
I know I was.

She says she misses me.
I know I miss her, too.
My Feeeeeeeeeeeelings situation is affecting our relationship – because the last thing someone who’s devoting most of their spoons to pain management wants is to have to play counselor to someone else at the same time, but also because the amount of ruminating I’m doing means that I’m distracted and miserable half the time we’re in the same room – and it’s affecting my relationship with my out-of-town partner, too (because she can’t, by her own admission, be the only “place” where my sexual needs get met. That’s way too much pressure to put on someone who only sees you for two days in a given month).

Every message I’m getting (like “message from the universe”, ‘cause I’m Woo like that, but also straight up “message via actual words out of someone’s mouth”) is all Baby, Just Say Yes! and I’m still balking like woah. My wife says “Be selfish, it’s okay.” She and my girlfriend have both noticed that kissing me tends to drag on and on and not get any farther than that and… I sort of know what that’s about. But that doesn’t tell me how to move forward. How to move myself forward.
For whatever reason, I’ve convinced myself that I’m always going to want my partners more than they want me, and I’ve been watching for “back off” and “that’s enough” cues to the exclusion of the ones that say “come closer” and “I want more”. Thing is, I’m doing that around myself, too, and I’m learning that the way I talk myself back into my body isn’t helping, because it involves a lot of “calm the fuck down”, a lot of clamping down on whatever I’m feeling and quashing the good stuff as well as the stuff I don’t want to be feeling. (Like that thing that Brené Brown says about how you can’t just numb the “bad stuff”, you numb out everything).

My wife says “Why not come to sex with goals of what you want to get out of it?”
And, big surprise, I’m drawing a HUGE blank on that one. The only “goal” I ever learned, around sex, was “everybody (in theory) gets an orgasm” and that’s… not actually reasonable under the circumstances. So, to take a page from Captain Awkward (I read a lot of Captain Awkward), let’s see what kind of goals I can set wherein the accomplishing of those goals is something I can actually control:

A) Suggest one thing that I would like to try – “Could you touch me like [xyz]”, “Can I do [xyz] by [abc]?” “Put your hand [here]?”

B) Use my words to express a particular need – “I need to stay warm while we do this”, “I would like you to do the thing that you mentioned wanting to do, but I need you to do it specifically like [lmnop]”

C) Try a thing that you suspect might feel good, regardless of what your brain weasels are telling you. (It’s okay to stop if it’s not as fun as you thought it would be).

These are things I can try. These are goals I can accomplish. Even though it’s scary as fuck. Even though the starving part of me is insisting “You can put up with things not being exactly what you want, if it means getting something into your system”, even though the entitled, angry part of me is demanding “Why do I still have to do the hard things??” These are still things that I can try to do, can make a point of doing.

Wish me luck.

Ms Syren.

[1] She says she sometimes wishes she’d never told me, because I’ve got such a hang-up about it. I’ll get to that bit in a minute, though.

[2] Which is, in fact, the opposite of what she was saying in both word and deed, but conveniently (“conveniently”) was exactly what my Jerk Brain has been telling me for the past 25+ years. Funny thing, that.

Just… Call Me Becky?

So, I popped over to Kink of the Week today, and what should the topic turn out to be?
So I decided to talk about bums.
Because, to my continual (for some reason) surprise, I am a bit of an Ass Lady.
I say “surprise” because (a) I’m deeply ambivalent about my own butt, and also (b) I’m not butt-oriented in general… and yet… Honestly? Three girlfriends in? I’m noticing a pattern. ‘Cause every one of them has (a) had a great ass, but also (b) had said great ass totally captivate me on many an occasion.
Just amazing.
You know “callipygian”? “Having a shapely behind”? It’s that. All of my lady-loves have had these gorgeous, curvy, meaty rear-ends that I just want to get my hands on and my face into.
Who knew?
Not me, apparently.
I mean, gods know I have A Type, even if I don’t always date to it.
And yet: bodacious asses.
Can’t complain.

Hey there.
So one of my partners and I were fooling around the other day, and she wanted to check in to see if I was up for something a little more hot and heavy than making out for the sake of making out. The way she asked was… a little awkward, to say the least, but it gave me some Useful Information about my own sexuality and what my pacing is like. So, in true Challenger Generation[1] fashion, I’ve decided to talk about it on the internet.
See, one of my Nearest and Dearest identifies as Grey-A, and we’ve talked about it using the metaphore of “mainland” and “island”. It goes like this:
Non-sexual interactions take place on the mainland. Sexual interactions take place on the island. (This is where the metaphor starts getting a little bit clunky, but bear with me). Most people live on the mainland, most of the time (some people live on the island, most of the time, but that’s another story) and, if they want to have a sexual interaction with somebody, they need to take the bridge across to the island.
With me so far?
My Grey-A Interlocutor says that, for her, there is no bridge. She either has wings that day (and can fly across the water, which is also tiring) or she doesn’t, in-which-case the island might as well not exist no matter how much she wants to get over there.
For non-ace-spectrum folks, it’s more like “how does a given person cross this bridge?”
Which is what I wanted to talk about.
I figure that, for some people, there’s the mental/emotional/cellular-leve equivalent of a shuttle bus that goes by every 10 minutes if you happen to want to hop on and go to Sex Island for a quick stop-over or an afternoon of fun. For others, there might not be a shuttle bus, but maybe they can phone a private car that will, at a moment’s notice, turn up to collect them and deliver them to their destination in style and comfort. For still others, there might be a swaying, rickity footbridge of rope and half-rotted planks, and getting to Sex Island means edging along above turbulent waters, one very-carefully-placed step at a time, with a lot of safety precautions in play… and they might still have to abort the mission unexpectedly.
In my case, my footbridge is no-longer the swaying death-trap it once was (Woohoo!!!), but it’s still a long-ass bridge and it takes a fucking while to cross it. Like, yes, sure, sometimes – as with OC Transpo, funily enough! – I can catch a bus when I’m part-way across and the stars have properly alligned, and yes, sure, like all good bridges, it has a bit of an arc to it, so things move a little faster and more easily once I’m past the halfway point, but generally speaking I’m getting to Sex Island on foot, at walking pace[2].
Which is good to know.
As in: It’s information I can give a partner.
For Example:
“I’m totally down for beating the fuck out of you, but I need you to be gentle and receptive about how gradually I do the build-up, because this is also the warm-up for me, and I’m a better, more solid and less literally-shakey, top when I don’t rush myself by trying to get to your desired intensity-level faster than I’m actually comfortable with”.
“I’m definitely up for switching sexually, but are you cool with taking the Bottom spot first? That way, I can warm myself up while I’m doing Wonderful Things to you, and I’ll be ready for you by the time we trade places.”
“I’d love to [receive intense-for-me genetal play] but, before that can happen, I’m going to need a solid hour[3], give or take, of slow, full-body carresses, deep kissing, and breathing each other’s pheremones.”
I like the footbridge metaphor. It helps explain (to myself, if to nobody else) why so many of my “reliable go-to” sexual activities are the kind of “still a virgin” things that geeky-nerdy kids (and probably other kids?) do when they’re not quite emotionally/mentally ready for Actual Fucking, but definitely have all the hormones and neurons and what-not to be physically into it. Things like making out and sensual massage and fooling around with our clothes still on and cuddling & whispering together and, okay, also hanging out together in the miniature hot tub and nuru-gel wrestling in the inflate-a-pool. But you get the idea. I may not know how to turn wrestling into sex, the way S. Bear Bergman describes it in his essay, “Brother Dog”, but – if someone wants to get there with me – I definitely know how to turn cuddling and gentle closeness into sex. It’s the road I know best. I may walk it at a heartbeat pace, but it gets me there every time.
Ms Syren.
[1] you can blame/thank Catherynne M. Valente for that term – though I can’t find the post where she first used it. (There’s a handy definition here, though).
[2] I’ve tried to get there at a run on so many occasions, and it mostly just means that I get tired half-way across and need to straight-up stop, or else I get to Sex Island only to realize that I’ve got a stitch in my side and everything hurts and I need to catch my breath and just… enjoying myself now that I’m here isn’t going to be easy.
[3] Maybe more, depending on the day and/or how long it’s been since I’ve seen you.