Goodbye 2016 and Heeeellllllooooo 2017........
As 2016 comes to an end and 2017 closes in quickly it is often a time for reflection and looking forward.
This year has been mostly uneventful, work, study, family, some health issues and a time for learning more about myself and where I am going in my life.
As a universal 9 year it was a time for everyone to let go of the past 9 years to be ready to welcome in the new beginnings of the universal 1 year of 2017. Personally 2017 is also a 4 year for me, a focus on career, so with that in mind it makes sense that it is a time for new beginnings career wise and setting foundations for my future as a clinical sexologist, completing my research dissertation and looking to graduation in early 2018.
With only a week left of this year it is time to let go of the things that no longer serve you, I have done several blogs over the past few months about letting go, it has been a very strong theme with the 3 Mercury Retrogrades and the clposing of 2016......have you been able to let go?
If not then look at how you can create a ritual that will enable you to do so and then you can gp into 2017 lighter and not weighed down by your past. Maybe meditate on what you need to let go( see it floating away, the cord between you and it being severed), write it down, create or draw a representation of what you need to let go then burn it or release to the sea or speak it to the winds, release it to the universe in what ever way speaks to you.
Once you have let it go then it is time to welcome in the new year and new beginnings, be intentional as you consider what it is you want to manifest in 2017. You can also meditate on this, welcoming it in, embracing your future, create or draw a represenatation or write postitve affirmations of what you seek but ensure they are in the current tense (I am, I have, I deserve rather than I want, seek or I need) place these where you can see them every day, once again welcome in your manifestation in a way that works for you. You can do this over the next week or even on New Years Eve or Day.
I wish you all a wonderful, happy and safe festive season and after a long overdue break with my loved ones I will be back in 2017.
Life has been crazy busy with the end of year for uni and travel for work so I have not been on here often. I have been wondering what to blog about and when I read this today from EV'YAN it rang with me. SENSUALITY ...what is it....what does it mean?
For me it is about pleasure, touch, the senses, a joy in my body, a caress. My sensual potential is about feeling bliss in the everyday, my relationship with myself and others and a confidence in myself, my body and my interactions. I loved what EV'YAN has to say below...what does sensuality mean to you??????????
Sensuality is the vibrancy of every moment. It is an invitation for you to open wider, to tune in closely, to be present actively.
Sensuality is connection—connection to your surroundings, connection to your body and inner rhythms, connection to what feels good.
Sensuality is instinct, primal enjoyment. When you are engaged in sensuality, you listen keenly with your senses. Time slows, inhibitions lower, and pleasure expands your body.
Without sensuality, your life would be dull, mechanical, unfeeling. And you feel deeply.
Sensuality lives in your breath, in the soles of your feet, on the tip of your tongue, and in the sacred voice of your intuition.
I believe that you don’t need to be taught how to be sensual; it is inherently within you and within this moment. You only need to open to your natural capacity to feel and sense and be.
I believe that sensuality is your birthright, that moments of slowness, presence, and inner listening are imperative for embodied living.
I believe that sensuality is easily accessible, that every breath is an opportunity for you to experience the sensual and awaken fully to this gorgeous moment—even if it’s filled with busyness or chaos.
I believe that sensuality is yours for the taking. All you need to do is give yourself permission to play.
If you want to be sensual. . .
1. Breathe—deeply, consciously.
2. Go slowly.
3. Seek pleasure wherever you are, in whatever you’re doing.
4. Open yourself to the richness and fullness of each moment.
5. Develop an intimate kinship to the desires of your heart and body.
6. Indulge in loving self-care.
7. Go inward and ask what it is you want.
8. Explore your capacity to feel and experience pleasure.
9. Trust your body and intuition, and their ability to guide you.
10. Consciously make space for your senses to open you. . .
. . . to this gorgeous moment, to the depths of your ability to feel, to the pleasure you know your body is capable of.
But especially: Give yourself permission to play.
So today I was blocked from facebook for 24 hours due to a post I shared about safer anal sex for straight men, that had a picture of a half covered bum. Apparently is did not comply with their facebook standards.
I found this interesting as I have seen nude images of men and women as well as vulvas, penis and breasts before not to mention the graphic violent or discriminatory images or text.
I began to wonder about censorship and it place in our society. I believe it is important to protect the young and innocent and I do not agree with the over sexualisation of children we often see in imagery and clothing. But where is the line drawn for consenting adults when viewing a page that is designated for sexual health and well being, are we being over censored, is facebook being paternal while still being inconsistent?
Personally for me I am more upset by images of cruelty to animals and humans, violence, discrimination and villification than I am of the human body in a learning context. Have I been working in sexual health for too long, am I now desensitised to what others would see as unacceptable?
Gee Whiz.....we all have bodies, some may be different to others, but they are all amazing and beautiful in their own way......we dont all behave in violent ways and by continuing to show these images we desensitise people to such things.
I would much rather see a picture of a half naked bum, than one of someone being shot, abused or hurt in any way, physically, emotionally or psychologically. Has our society got it wrong in banning what is natural and not banning what is detrimental to us all?
Rant for the month is over.....continue on your usual viewing.
As I submit my last assignment for this year and before I start my dissertation last year I start thinking about my research synopsis that is due in a few weeks for final approval for my thesis topic "The journey to identifying as a Queer Femme".
Identity is something that is very personal, how we identify is a combination if various factors that change in their level of importance over time, our sex, gender, ethnicity, faith or spirituality, familial role, sexual orientation, work role, hobbies and sports, values, beliefs and personality all come into play.
As we go through life and have a variety of experiences the level of importance of each factor will vary: the new parent, employee, partner or recently 'out' person may feel that this is their primary identity.
In the training I deliver we discuss identity, especially gender and sexual orientation and all of the various terms people may use. I don't talk about labels as I personally believe a label is something we put onto something else to make sense of it and to know how we will interact with it, whereas an identity is chosen by the person and cannot be put on them by another.
But how do we come to our identity? For some the journey is smooth but for many the journey is a rocky one, ups and downs, twists and turns, steps forward and back. It may have moments of celebration or grief, joy or despair and when it is reached there may be a sense of coming home and living your truth.
For me the journey to my identity was slow and winding, with ups and downs.....as an adult it twisted and turned......from girl to woman, daughter and sister, uni student then worker, singer and actress, heterosexual wife then single woman then lesbian partner, DV survivor then thriver, mother and grand mother, business owner then uni student again, bellydancer then latin dancer, avid reader and gardener, trainer and advocate, monogamous then polyamorous, vanilla then kinky, heterosexual (40 years), bisexual (2 weeks), lesbian (10 years), and then queer femme (5 years).
Who knows where it may take me over the next 5, 10, 15, 20 years......Masters graduate, Sexologist, Business owner?????????......the world is a never ending ride and I am going to grab it with both hands and hang on.....what about you, what has the journey to your identity entailed?
Over the past 8 weeks I have had a sinus virus, very similar to the one I has last year that lasted 4 months. A foggy head like a head cold that makes thinking almost impossible, coughing and sneezing so violent that it makes you pee a little, breathless at the slightest thing and a general feeling of being exhausted, bleh and 'over it'.
During this time I have had time off for sick leave but also 2 weeks annual leave and tonight am heading away for a weekend near the beach with my partner, a time to rest, refresh and reconnect. A break from a busy life to have some quality couple time, lazy days and sex....lots of it....well that is what we would both like but the reality may be very different.
But the way I have been feeling, sex has been the last thing on my mind. What I have been thinking about is intimacy, all the things that show me how much I am loved and cared for, the Languages of Love like, physical touch: cuddles, not so much kisses as I didn't want to pass along what I have and massages, acts of service: doing the little things like making a hot cuppa, getting medications ready, running a hot bath, and making dinner, gift giving: bringing home treats to make me feel better, words of affirmation: these can be hard when you look and feel like hell, but little things like asking how you are feeling and being proud of you that you actually got out of your PJs or out of bed today and finally quality time: which can incorporate the others, spending time focused on each other with no distractions.
For me I will get better over the next few weeks and back to my usual self but it got me thinking about people who have chronic illness, disability or some of the impacts of ageing and how hard it must be to maintain a sexual and sensual connection with yourself and your partner in the long term. If you experience pain, feelings of unwellness (if that is a word), or that your body has let you down (insert menopause here for me as well as illness), it can be difficult to even think about being sexual let alone do anything.
This is where the languages of love can come into play to feel connected, loved and intimate with each other and a bit of imagination can help in working out ways to still be sexual. Things may need to be done differently, sexual activity may change and be less strenuous, it may be gentler, it may be more oral or manual stimulation rather than penetration, and there may be sex aids and toys that can help.
So my partner and I will make the most of our weekend getaway, we will catch up with mates, spend quality time together to reconnect in whatever way we can, allowing for illness, and our sensual life will get back to what we both enjoy soon enough.
My wish for everyone else this long weekend is that you also take time to reconnect with yourself and those you love, and if you also have illness, pain or disability that impacts on your sensuality, that you find ways to maintain that connection with your sensual, sexual self and those that you share this with.
I have been absent on here for the past few weeks due to illness, final uni assignments and the turmoil of the latest mercury retrograde making me ponder life, the universe and my role in it all.
The later has been interesting, many posts on facebook resonated, letting go and moving forward, my memories of the past, my wondering of the future and a restlessness that I could not explain. I have been here before as I was approaching the end of my studies in 2006.....so near and yet so far.
I processed many fond memories of the past, remembering fun times with mates on the Sunshine Coast and thinking about how we have all scattered and how much our lives have changed yet some of us are still in contact and catch up from time to time. Finding a familiarity in the restlessness I was feeling, one I had first felt when I was going on my spiritual journey back in the late 1990s and early 2000s which culminated in a realisation of my sexuality. And then again as I previously mentioned, as I approached the end of my undergrad studies, pondering where it would take me. And it has been quite a career adventure, a winding path to my dream job and a realisation of where I want to go in my future career.
They say that life goes in 7 year cycles, if that is the case then I am approaching the end of one as I get closer to 56, maybe that is playing a role.....I have found in the past that things would start to shift in the year prior to the 7 yr cycle....I am about to finalise my last assignment and then will have a year of my research dissertation and then graduation and time to move into private practice. Another new career adventure that I will move into slowly over the next few years, this website and the facebook pages being a start in building my sexological empire (hey ya gotta dream big).
I have also been observing some people I know on their spiritual journey, as I said one I went on as I approached my 40s, and found I was able then to incorporate in to my day to day life around the age of 42 (another 7 yr cycle). It made me think about how that was now, almost 14 years later, missing in my life. Time to explore it again, I have started to incorporate crystals into my life again, have set up a meditation space (which I have not started to use yet) and have booked myself into a yoga retreat for later this year (hopefully the kick start I need).
As part of the letting go process it was important to me to remember fondly things in my past, to grieve and heal anything that was left over that had hurt me, to look at the people who were in my life and their role...maybe it is time to let some of them go as well (I can hold on to friendships long after their use by date). So I have been reconnecting to see how I feel about those friendships, were they still strong but interrupted by busy lives or were they over and the time had come to move on from them. This is still a work in progress and only time will tell who will still be in my life and who will just be a fond memory.
So as the Mercury Retrograde comes to a close and the Spring Equinox is upon us, it is time to look to the future, letting go of past pain and putting some memories into the box with other fond times. Being open to a new life, a fresh start, moving towards a bright future whatever that may be for us all, whether that be a new job, home, relationship, friends, or starting a family, study, travel, sports, hobbies or adventures.......life is a ride, grab it with both hands and hang on.
With the Mercury Retrograde starting on August 30 and ending September 16 I have seen many people reporting experiences of things not working or going to plan and posts about letting go of the old to welcome the new. So I thought that it might be a good opportunity to explore what is out there about what is going on in the cosmos and how this may impact on you.
This info about Numerology and the upcoming 9/9/16 came from Elephant Journal:
"In numerology, September 9th, 2016 translates to 999 as it is the ninth day of the ninth month in a 9 year 2016 (2+0+1+6=9.)
We are about to go through a very intense phase that will cleanse poisonous toxins from our lives, which include unhealthy habits, extreme behaviours, outdated beliefs and irrational fear-based thoughts and feelings that diminish our energy and leave us feeling fraught, anxious and burnt-out.
Also, any ties that are energetically binding us to people or situations that are detrimental to us or limiting us in any way will easily be severed during this period and we will walk away with peace, love, compassion and forgiveness in our hearts. In particular, we will feel the urge to remove ourselves from the company of anyone that regularly provokes arguments, shows aggression, is controlling, manipulative, deceptive, judgemental, overly critical or generally abusive to us.
Not only will we be ending a nine-year cycle that has felt especially vicious, we are about to embark on an important, transformational new phase—and if we have been involved in any toxicity, it is vital that we are ready for this shift."
The moon solar eclipse is also influencing at the moment, this is from empower Astrology:
"The New Moon solar eclipse at 9 degrees Virgo on the 1st September.
Eclipses are the most powerful transits that you can experience. They herald major beginnings and endings, burning and purifying. Solar eclipses tend to create new beginnings and bright new opportunities. Usually, they are exciting, are often very positive, and bring news out of the blue. This Solar Eclipse in Virgo is immensely significant, the major activity cycle for 2016 begins now. The North Node and Virgo-Jupiter are highly active.
We have two powerful eclipses back to back in September. The Solar eclipse on the 1st September and a Lunar eclipse on the 16th September. We will all feel the effects of the two eclipses but even more so if you have personal planets in your horoscope that are directly aspected by the eclipse. Eclipses can uproot us, surprise us, and get us moving. They shake us up so that we can move from one level of maturity to another, to a higher plane, very rapidly. Eclipses want us to change, and change we do! Anything that we have been holding onto that no longer serves our highest purpose will fall away during the two eclipses in September. Whether that be people, circumstances or limiting and negative patterns of thinking and behaving.
And on both a personal and collective level we will find the September energies positively culminating on the New Moon in Libra September 30th together with Jupiter in Libra heralding a new healthy paradigm for better relationships and love. With many karmic lovers meeting and coming together during the Jupiter in Libra transit from September 9th 2016to October 2017."
From Wicca Teachings:
"With a New Moon in the constellation of Virgo, the earth is going through a major transition at the moment, dark is taking over light, cold is taking over warmth, death is taking over life as we speed into September. We will be able to see and feel these energies all around us. We can also use these energies of transformation to become what we want to be, to shed our skin and start a fresh and make changes that will improve our lives.
With this New Moon we are essentially working on a blank canvas where our ideas can gestate into reality. We can create the world around us and shape our futures to what we want, we just need to be willing to put in the work. All work done around the Virgo New Moon will pay off and give big rewards. The Virgo New Moon brings attention to the details and listening to your conscience or rather the wise voice from inside. Look deep within yourself and ask yourself what it is that will make you happy, what will make you feel whole."
Chani Nichols explains it all this way:
"Virgo is the reality of having to tend to the details of life. Pisces, the sign of the lunar eclipse occurring on September 16th, is the idealistic dream of what life could be. This eclipse season has us straddling the polarity of precision and symbolism, organisation and creative chaos, facts and fictions.
This week’s solar eclipse is sitting in a tight square to Saturn (a loose square to Mars) and a tight opposition to Neptune. It ties together the Saturn/Neptune square, an aspect that has been brewing since November 2015. The Saturn (walls, boundaries, blockades, structures, limitations)/Neptune (dissolution, delusions, deceptions, leaks, lies) square has correlated with a tremendous amount of structural dissolution, fantasy versus reality and a rise in rhetoric about structural extremism and separation. The eclipse gets caught in the cross-hairs of this cosmic soup calling up the limitations, fear-based reactions and the changing shape of things that we are dealing with, both internally and externally.
Virgo’s answer is to tend to the details of life. To be a student of its cycles. To study what is in front of it. To learn all it can and then to apply its deft ability to discern and analyse the data, integrating what is good, eliminating what is of no use.
Remember that eclipse season lasts for a while. Longer than the two weeks they technically span. What happens during them tends to have a lasting impact on our lives. See the cycle from up close and a great distance. Zoom in and pan out. Give yourself extra breathing room. Focus on the moment at hand and give up on sticking to the plan in any kind of precise way. Go easy, tread lightly and be the softest that you can with yourself and everyone else."
So as you can see the next few weeks are going to be a time of change, ending and beginnings, letting go and moving forward. Take some time to explore what is in your life that no longer serves you well, process old emotions, look to the future, be grounded and connected to yourself, look for renewal and the possibilities of the future.
Be gentle on yourself as things shift in and around you, take some time for reflection, meditation, mindfulness, do things that speak to your heart and soul (whatever that may be for you)and prepare for the new and exciting things ahead.
Hold on it because it may be a hell of a Ride.
In the past few days I have seen a lot f posts and research about the links between intimacy and desire, some saying that too much intimacy and familiarity reduces desire, while others saying that it increases it....so which is true....actually both.
Esther Perel talks about us needing both surprise and security to have desire and good sex. Security provides love, consistency and intimacy while surprise provides novelty and mystery and an otherness that is attractive.....how do we have both. Esther talks about us having the intimacy we require to feel secure but also how we can still maintain the mystery and excitement, how we can HAVE and WANT. To listen to her click on the link here.
Recent research by Birbaum (2016) echoes Perel "the need for security that intimacy typically provides may clash with the sense of uncertainty, novelty, and separateness that fuels desire, such that high levels of intimacy between partners may stifle sexual desire." But then goes on to show how the two can work together, how we can have both and may possibly need both to feed off each other. When our partner turns towards us, is responsive in an empathetic, intimate and caring way to what we are saying we feel heard, desired and worthy......this can increase our feelings of desirability and thus our desire for our partner.....this was especially the case for women. The conclusions of the research were "Overall, the findings elucidate the intimacy-desire paradox, suggesting that, under certain circumstances, it may not be a paradox: What determines whether intimacy instigates or inhibits desire is not the mere existence of intimacy, but its meaning in the larger context of a relationship. Responsiveness is most likely to instigate desire when it conveys the impression that the partner is worth pursuing and when engaging in sex with such a desirable partner is likely to promote an already valuable relationship."
So we can have both intimacy and desire, the wish to be sexual with each other does not always have to decrease over time as intimacy increases, but it takes work from all involved, to remain responsive to each other, to create excitement, to show each other that they are desirable and desired.
LBD or Lesbian Bed Death, a myth or a reality?
Is a reduction in sexual frequency a natural occurrence in all long term relationships or specific to lesbian ones?
Anyone in a long term relationship will tell you that sexual frequency does decline over time, with the rush of hormones and limerence of the romantic/honeymoon period fading out and long term, deep companionable love taking over, the amount of time spent having sex each week does reduce. Life gets in the way, kids come along, work and stress can impact, as well as illness and changes associated with ageing, it does not mean the relationship is in peril if there is still intimacy in other areas. One of the things that can happen in lesbian relationships is a reduction in sexual activity quite early in a relationship, when this happens there can be several things going on.....rushing into the relationship before really knowing if they are compatible, emotional enmeshment where the relationship is more emotional than physical (really just meant to be mates, but slipped into girlfriends), or just not not being into each other.
Research has shown that generally lesbians have less sex than heterosexual couple or gay men, averaging once fortnight rather than 1-2 times a week. But what it also shows is that when lesbians do have sex they have it for longer, 30-120 minutes, they expect to and do have more orgasms and they often have more oral sex. Whereas heterosexual women may have sex more often, but they often do not expect to have an orgasm or oral sex, and it usually lasts less than 30 minutes.
So may it is a case of looking not at the frequency of sex but the satisfaction that people experience with their sex life, with lesbians experiencing quality over quantity.
But what do you do if you are having sex less than you both want to? Looking at what might be impacting on the lack of sex and dealing with that is a good place to start.
Is there a physical reason, illness, pain, tiredness, medications etc?
Is it a social issue, work, time, lack of experience or education?
Is it a psychological issue, past experiences, mental health, changes in feelings?
What can you change.....can you improve your work/life balance, make more time, change medications, deal with issues of lack of knowledge, change the time of day you have sex, get therapy?
What cant you change and how can you work around it?
If it is important to both of you, make it a priority, schedule time to be together to be intimate, to focus on each other, to communicate thoughts, desires and feelings, explore new things together, have fun.
Richelle has had a passion for sexuality and sexual health since 2001. She has worked in the field since 2006, providing sexuality education in schools, and adult education in the topics of diverse sexualities and gender identities, LGBT health issues, sexual health and LGBT relationships.
This is a space for me to share with you my journey as a Sexologist, the things I learn and the people I meet and what I think and feel along the way.