“You Don’t Have To Suffer Alone.”

I bawled my eyes out at the first puja I attended. We did this exercise where we looked each other in the eyes and took turns saying, “You don’t have to suffer alone.” Before we began, we were asked to think of a time in our lives when we felt overwhelming aloneness.

My ways of coping with a recent breakup have included going into hermit mode, retreating from the world and keeping to myself. Having just gone through another one, the feelings were still pretty raw. As soon as I was instructed to go to that place of aloneness, emotions that I’d been doing my best to keep under control surged forward. While I gazed into the eyes of the man I’d just met in front of me, I saw his eyes change as he also went to his place of aloneness.

His eyes filled with hurt and reflected the emotions that all of us are subject to experiencing simply because we are human. None of us are exempt from pain. Loss has carved its painful mark on each of us. The puja provided a powerful reminder that regardless of how different and isolated we may feel from other people, we share the experience of suffering. And it’s true, you don’t have to suffer alone.

I tried to go it alone after my breakup because I felt like talking about “what went wrong” or the tumultous emotions I was feeling would be dwelling on the negative. I thought sharing my experience with friends would just keep me feeling down and also dampen their moods. The only problem was that because I wasn’t reaching out to friends, my feelings of loneliness increased.

Going to this puja was exactly what I needed. Gazing into another person’s eyes for several minutes and making supportive statements to each other provided such a sense of relief. I felt seen, recognized, held and connected.

See It Your Way: Taking a Walk On the Wild And Mild Sides

One of my biggest goals this year is to see the other side and put myself in the other person’s shoes more often. I’ve decided that one way to do that is to purposely seek out opposing opinions (in books, articles, films and conversations with others). 

I’m very wary of becoming a stuck-up, superior asshole.

Here’s what usually happens: I get really excited when I develop new interests, and I’ll make them my whole world for a time. I want to learn, experience and embody all that I possibly can about whatever is captivating me.

It’s great and all, but I really also want to stay balanced. I want to remember that many other perspectives exist, and not only that they exist but that they can be just as compelling as whatever opinions I hold.

This year, I’ve really been diving into the world of polyamory! Open relationships! Free love! All kinds of adventures in the love department. Having a girlfriend, going to tantra meetups and sexual play parties.

I recently read a book called “The Science of Fear” by Daniel Gardner. Great book, by the way. Highly recommend it!

Anyways, he brings up the confirmation bias and other studies in his book that show whenever we form opinions, we enthusiastically latch onto anything we find that supports our opinions (books, articles, films, things we hear in conversations with others) and basically disregard anything to the contrary.

We’ve already put so much effort, time and passionate feeling into forming our opinions, studying causes we care about, and even incorporating them into our senses of identity (“This is who I am.” “This is what I stand for.” “This is what I represent.”), that it’s unsettling and uncomfortable to face anything that might compel us to change our position.

Gardner describes research findings that show when we get together with other people who have similar ways of thinking, our perspectives become more extreme. Gardner notes that it doesn’t even matter what the opinion could be.

Gun lovers, hunters, church groups, vegans, any group. When any group meets up together, the individuals actually end up with opinions that are stronger, more passionately held, solidified and relatively more extreme than before they met up and shared their ideas.

It’s totally natural and human for us to do that, but it’s helpful to be aware of the tendency.

Recently, I committed to making vegan choices as much as possible. I know that it can piss people off when there are annoying vegans who personally criticize and attack meat-eaters. No one wants someone bitching at them.

A friend on Facebook just shared an article today, and I thought it was really helpful to read: An Open Letter From a Farmer to Angry Vegetarians. I think it’s really important to understand how people who make different lifestyle choices from me think, how they feel, and to strive to the best of my ability to be more kind and accepting.

Since I’ve been so into open relationships and sexual experimentation, freedom and exploration, I’m very interested in learning about the other side and learning about people who are really happy, fulfilled and healthy in monogamous relationships, who really do love “vanilla sex”, and who make more traditional choices but get so much joy from the lives they have chosen to live.

Niall Doherty writes the blog, Disrupting the Rabblement. I really like something he posted recently on Facebook. He and his friends played a game where they had to argue the opposing viewpoint of an issue they feel strongly about. I totally want to try that!

What are the strongest opinions you have? Where would you be willing to try purposely seeking out and learning to see from opposing perspectives?

After The Breakup: Feeling Thankful (For What We Shared)

“Sometimes people mate for life, and there are real-life ‘best friends forever’. But just as magical as those unions are the ones that are fleeting… like bursts of lights, meteors of human interaction.”

Sara Courter’s article, “Puzzle Pieces: Letting Relationships End“, puts forth the idea that relationships can be cherished for the value they brought to the lives of everyone involved, no matter how long or short the relationship lasted.

We can be glad that we had the time together. We can remember that we enjoyed each other’s company, getting to know each other and having amazing experiences together.

“What if I said that tomorrow you would meet the most exquisite human being you’ve ever met, and that you’d know them for eight months, create incredible memories, forge a beautiful bond, and then you would go your separate ways… how would you feel?”

Courter asks the reader to consider that the beauty of a relationship isn’t lost when it ends. Relationships can be appreciated even after they’ve transitioned from romantic to platonic.

The hurts and misunderstandings that existed between partners are valid, and looking back with appreciation for the good times doesn’t mean pretending that problems didn’t exist.

It’s not about ignoring the anger, sadness and frustration we feel. It just means also turning our attention towards the relationship as a whole, rather than magnifying the negative feelings that may have arisen towards the end and after the ending of the romantic relationship.

Just Dare Me: 2014 Summer Bucket List

I was hanging out with my friend Elena recently, and we were talking about how we’re totally craving new experiences! She thought it’d be fun to write a status update on Facebook inviting friends to submit dares for her to do.

I absolutely love excitement and experimentation, and wanted to do the self-challenge too!

Once upon a year ago

About a year ago, I was totally in the same mood to be bold and daring and have all these new experiences. In that particular head space, I ended up powering through tons of items on my bucket list.

Shhhhhhh…

I did a ten-day silent meditation retreat, dated couples who were in open marriages, dyed my hair every color under the sun (orange, yellow, red, blonde, purple, pink… you name it), went from long hair to my very first pixie cut, went to circus school (and learned trapeze, silks, aerial hoop and hand balancing), and started taking classes and performing burlesque, exotic, chair and pole dance.


Image Credit: Vixen Photography / Scott Saw

Pedal to the metal

Me and Elena decided to kick off the festivities by daring each other first. Elena has dared me to ride shotgun with a race car driver, since I’m a pretty conservative (SLOW) driver in everyday life. She explained that she’d love for me to experience the thrill of going incredibly fast in a car, which I don’t normally experience with my driving. I already have my ticket to go!

I totally thought she’d give me some sort of dare for my love life, but I think she knew that I’m already super down for experimenting in that area of my life and it’s not necessarily scary for me anymore.

She wears the pants

My dare for Elena involved her love life! I dared her to ask a guy out and be the one who takes him on the date, meaning that she plans the date, what they’re doing, where they’re going, etc. And she pays for it!

The very same day that I asked her to do this, Elena got her date set up! She was driving through a beach parking lot, spotted a cute guy, rolled down her window and hollered at him. This is why we’re friends.

Want to play?

If you’re feeling inspired to have your own summer bucket list, post a Facebook status update inviting friends to submit fun dares for you!

While you wait for people to send in dares, write down three new experiences that you want to have this summer. You can start planning how to accomplish the dares or bucket list items that you’ve come up with for yourself.

Submit a fun dare for me.

What do you dare me to do? What have you crossed off your bucket list that you think would be awesome for other people to try?

Let me know  in the comments section!

I Went To A Snuggle Party… And It Was Like A Slap In The Face

A few months ago, I Went To An All Girl Play Party… And It Was Amazing. So much has happened since then! This weekend, I went to my very first snuggle party… and yes, snuggle parties totally exist if you’ve never heard of them.

What’s the difference between a play party and a snuggle party?
At play parties, people can actually have sex (with protection). You might see intercourse/penetration, oral sex with dental dams, fingering, etc.  At snuggle parties, you can make out, kiss and do things with sexual energy, and it’s clothing optional, but there aren’t activities where any vaginal fluids or seminal fluids are exposed (no activities that would require using protection).

 

Hit me baby, one more time

Just like the play party, the snuggle party also took us through an exercise where we gathered into one of two groups, took turns standing in the center, introduced ourselves, and shared 1) something we would like and 2) something we wouldn’t like to experience that evening.

Popular requests were things like, “Oh, it’d be sweet to get a really awesome back massage.” and “I’d love to be tenderly caressed all over my body.”

I got up and said, “I’m kind of kinky, so if anyone’s up for it, I like being slapped in the face.”

Dead silence.

I sat back down.


Image Credit: Vixen Photography / Scott Saw

 

Talking smack

I was slightly mortified by the silence. Did I go too far? I’d just thrown an oddball request out there while everyone else was talking about gazing into each other’s eyes with love.

It turned out to be totally cool, though. The moral of this story is that if you want to get smacked upside the face, you should totally ask for it, because how else will the universe know what you want unless you tell a bunch of strangers about your kinks?

 

Ask and you shall receive

Over the course of the evening, a few different people helped create incredibly hot experiences that included holding me down, pulling my hair, controlling my breathing, and yes, thwacking me in the face.

One of my really good girlfriends alternated between slapping me fiercely and kissing me on the mouth and all over my body. Then, she laid me across her lap and gave me a next-level spanking still wearing rings on her hands!

 

High five to your face!

A woman I didn’t know approached me to ask what my fascination was with being slapped in the face. She was so curious to know, what in the world would lead a person to try it? And, what do people even enjoy about getting pummeled like a boxing bag? I dutifully answered her questions.

I like the shock of it and the whole taboo. I mean, you’re not supposed to slap peeps in the face. And it’s counterintuitive, because in most contexts, the typical response to getting slapped would be anger or feeling insulted… not enjoyment.

I like not knowing when a slap is coming, because I could be kissing someone or whatever, and then get slapped all of a sudden. I like the surprise, and it’s not about getting knocked out, but it’s just a quick sting that’s gone in an instant.

She was totally down to try it, so we took turns on each other. If you didn’t know any better, you might have thought it was the ultimate girl-on-girl cat fight.

She ended up getting super turned on by it. Her response to it took her by such surprise that it left her wondering what else is out there that she hasn’t tried or would never imagine could be a turn-on but could actually be an amazing experience for her.

She closed her eyes while she waited for me to slap her, but I started out by gently caressing her cheeks and face for a bit. Then, I slapped her fast and immediately caressed her cheeks again.

She mentioned afterwards that she was really surprised by the soft touch and that it made it such a sweet experience for her, because she knew that the intention wasn’t malicious but was truly intended to bring pleasure.

She approached it the same way with me. She slapped me and then immediately put her cheek against mine, which had an incredibly soothing effect.

 

Eyes wide open


Image Credit: Vixen Photography / Scott Saw

During the evening, I also had an intense, powerful experience in a submissive role. It involved an introduction to breath play, plus my usual faves (being pinned down at my wrists, getting my face and breasts slapped, hair pulled, neck held, to name a few).

What made this the most intense dom/sub experience I’ve had up to now is the more frequent and steady eye contact throughout it all.

He noticed that whenever I closed my eyes, it decreased the level of intensity that I experienced. So, he told me to keep my eyes open and keep looking into his eyes. The eye contact amplified every sensation, and I felt an incredibly high amount of intensity in my body.

 

I want to go there

It was such a challenge for me because my natural impulse is to close my eyes when feelings get super intense, but it was so worth it. I couldn’t close my eyes and drift off or lose focus. I had to be so present and fully experience everything happening in the moment.

He told me that there’s a world of so much possibility beyond what I just experienced, and that he had wanted to show me the door to that world. What I’d just experienced was barely scratching the surface.

“I want to go there,” I told him.

“You will,” he said. “You go there very easily. You surrendered beautifully.”

June Blog Hop: Looking and Feeling Your Best

“It doesn’t make sense to call ourselves ugly, because we don’t really see ourselves. We don’t watch ourselves sleeping in bed, curled up and silent with chests rising and falling with our own rhythm.
We don’t see ourselves reading a book, eyes fluttering and glowing. You don’t see yourself looking at someone with love and care inside your heart. 
There’s no mirror in your way when you’re laughing and smiling and happiness is leaking out of you. You would know exactly how bright and beautiful you are if you saw yourself in the moments where you are truly yourself.”
- Author Unknown

For the June Blog Hop, the Pole Dancing Bloggers Association wanted to know how pole dancers look and feel their best.

I answered a series of questions that other pole dancing bloggers will be answering as well on their own websites!


Image Credit: Vixen Photography / Scott Saw

Describe your body in one word.
Expressive.

In what environment do you typically feel the most amazing?
Being in the company of affectionate people! Being around people who are open books. You could describe many of my friends as adventurous, experimental and sex positive.

What do you love about your body and yourself in general?
I love that my body is a vehicle I can use to have the experience of flying. I love that I listen to my heart.

What feels really good to your body?
Really amazing hugs. Like, when they’re solid embraces instead of dinky ones where you’re only getting patted with hands. Get some arms in there! And body against body!

How does your body feel when it is dancing?
It feels like a vessel for energy to flow through, allowing me to participate in creation.


Image Credit: Vixen Photography / Scott Saw

What are five tips for looking good?

1. Sleep. Work hard, play hard… and sleep hard! Sleep is restorative. In addition to improving your mood, it’s great for overall health and an amazing complexion.
2. Chug, chug, chug!
Water, that is. I like drinking alkaline water, fresh vegetable juices and green smoothies. Kombucha, chia seed drinks and apple cider vinegar beverages are other personal favorites.
3. Smile.
I think happy people are incredibly attractive. As the show tune from the musical Annie goes, “You’re never fully dressed without a smile.” 
4. Carry yourself with confidence.
Rock what you’ve got! Appreciate what makes you unique. Stand tall, chin up, and look the world in the eye. Case in point, I happily proclaim myself to be a member of the Itty Bitty Titty Committee.
5. Look for the good in others. I think that what you see in others, you tend to magnify and appreciate in yourself.


Image Credit: Vixen Photography / Scott Saw

What are five tips for feeling good?

1. Try new things! Shake up your routine, get out of your comfort zone, challenge yourself and go to your edge.
2.  Find joy in the happiness of others. Whether that happiness comes from being with you or other people, or from activities or experiences that they enjoy, be happy for them. “Want for them”, meaning desire positive and good things for them.
3. Forgive. Forgive yourself. Forgive friends, family, strangers, lovers and romantic partners. Forgive people who are in your life now and those who were in your life in the past.
4. Use your creativity. I love writing and dancing, and I make lots of time for both!
5. Pay attention. Be present and aware. Keep your focus on what you’re doing and experiencing right now. Look around and notice your surroundings.


What To Expect During Your First Boudoir Photo Shoot

Paddles, floggers, and frightened friends? If you’re anything like me, your first boudoir photo shoot might include those naughty elements.

Read my new blog post for Bodybinds!


Image Credit: Vixen Photography / Scott Saw

The Hump Festival: So You Think You Can Be A Porn Star

Kate Hakala recently wrote an article for Nerve.com entitled “How Porn Can Be Funny, or What I Learned at Dan Savage’s Porn Festival”. I’d heard of the porn festival before, but didn’t know much about it until I read the article and checked out The Hump Festival’s official website. I think it’s such a cool concept!

The Hump Festival is an amateur porn film festival that takes place every year in the Pacific Northwest. There are cash prizes in different categories (ie. Best Humor, Best Sex, Best Kink, Best in Show), and audiences vote by secret ballot.

Five minutes of fame…

The Hump Festival showcases five-minute amateur-produced porn movies at theaters in Seattle, Portland and Olympia. Movies are shown for three weekends, and anyone can submit a movie!

Undercover lover

The Hump Festival is unique in that it lets people experience being in porn for a moment in time before returning to anonymity.

The Hump Festival website makes it clear that movies are only shown for the duration of the festival, in select theaters, and not on the Internet:

“HUMP! films are not released online or in any other form. Filmmakers retain all rights, and HUMP! does not keep any permanent copies. Our copies are destroyed onstage in front of the audience at the last screening. Appearing in a film for HUMP! means being a porn star for a weekend — not the rest of your life!”

Porn tasting

Hakala compares the film festival to a wine tasting, in the sense that you get exposed to new things at both events.

Some things you’ll like, some you won’t, and there will be plenty that you might never have heard of or thought to look for yourself (but can appreciate now that you’ve been given a sample).

Many of the films she saw were laugh-out-loud funny, surprising and unusual. Hakala said, “I laughed not because I was uncomfortable, but because [the films] were genuinely thoughtful and funny.”

You did what?

One film showed a woman putting flash paper over her clit and breasts, setting it ablaze, and cracking up the whole time.

Another film showed an incredibly good-looking gay man pleasuring himself with a butt plug. At the end of the film, it’s revealed that he’s also a Mormon missionary.

Hakala sums up The Hump Festival’s lineup this way:

“Orgasm never was at the forefront of the films, but pleasure and story were. These were films full of inside jokes, cultural references, personality, and kink — pretty much everything I’ve come to know in normal, everyday regular sex. And that’s why it was good porn.”

 

Photo Shoot by Marc of HYPERcontrast

Today, I’m interrupting the regularly scheduled programming of blog posts about sexuality, open relationships and pole dancing… and showcasing photos from recent shoots I’ve done!

If you’ve been following me on Instagram, you’ll have seen a slew of new photos that were shot by Marc of HYPERcontrast.

He’s done a lot of incredible work shooting wildlife and landscape photography. Nowadays, he’s doing a lot more fine art nude photography, and he’s explored pole photography and yoga photography.

Marc’s photographs highlight the world of beauty that he sees. The cool thing is that he’s been able to combine his love for the female form and landscapes by photographing them together.

 

Had a lovely time frolicking in the woods, exploring the nooks and crannies of the land.

Wandered down to a creek, took meandering trails, climbed over logs, and crossed meadows.

One of my favorite things about nature is how the sounds are so relaxing. The forest isn’t actually quiet; it’s full of sounds like birds, the creaking of old trees and branches crunching beneath my feet.

Took some creative liberties with this last photo! I added a few photo filters and layers (using the Mextures app on my iPhone, in case you’re wondering).

It’s been so nice to take a breather by getting outdoors and doing these fun hikes. I took the month of May off from pole dancing, because my body doth protest the overtraining. I ended up straining my pectoral muscle, shoulder and wrist.

So eager to get back in the dance studio!

Fingers crossed that I’ll be strong enough to train and prepare for performances in August!