Balance

I have been spending a lot of time considering Work/Life balance.

I almost started that sentence with “I have been struggling with…” but decided to try and take the struggle out of it.  This is about choices, to build a career, choices to make money, to advance my knowledge and experience.  It is also about choices around how I want to spend my time  – this is a biggie – including relationships of all kinds friendships, learning new things that are not work related, recreation, FUN, and family, oh, and when to clean my house!  I DO struggle to find this balance. I do consider what my priorities are. Sometimes, professionally, I with I could be an expert in more areas of sexuality. Or, if not an expert, at least know a lot more than I already do.

For example, I a, continuing my education about Gestalt Therapy to be a better therapist to my current and future clients.  I am taking a few different courses and seminars this year to contribute to my growth.  This means I have less time to teach workshops on sex and sexuality and to focus on areas there that I would like to enhance, namely, pelvic pain and painful sex.

I want to be an expert on it all. I want to be able to focus on a few areas where I see a need AND also work at my regular job which supports me to live where I live and DO my life.

There is a lot going on for psychotherapists in Ontario these days. The government decided a few years ago to regulate the terms “Psychotherapist” and “Mental Health Professional”.  There is a transitional counsel making up the policies right now and this will be unfolding likely in 2014.  Getting ready for this is something that me and my Gestalt colleagues are anxiously getting ready for and the anticipation is high.

More info can be found here:

http://www.collegeofpsychotherapists.on.ca/pages/Home

While I continue to consider all that is going on in this life, and my areas of interest, it seemed appropriate to write about it here. This is a musing on sex, a musing on sex therapy, on sex education and ways that I can and cannot contribute as much as I want to these days.

More to come! As always!

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It’s about time…

… “spring cleaning”? what about fall cleaning? That seems to be my time to get things in shape, including a blog update ;-).

It’s already October and workshops are coming up, conferences are happening, new classes, new clients and lots to keep me busy.  It’s hard to find time to muse about sex sometimes. I have been musing about intimacy, and how this does or doesn’t come into play within our sex lives.  Single or partnered, or multi-partnered, intimacy seems to be something we crave, avoid, get awkward about or we just don’t know what to do about it.  What I do notice in my work is that most people want it, even when it makes them uncomfortable.

What kind of sex are you having? what kind of relationships? Are you fulfilled? Satisfied?  That is a lot of questions… and yet, there are no easy answers.  And I propose that there isn’t really an answer but an opportunity to experience in every moment.  Notice what you are feeling right now.  I know it may sound cheesy or silly, or self-indulgent, but really, check out what are you aware of about yourself, your sexuality, your relationships.

And muse a little longer, stay curious about what is going on…

Spring is coming…here’s what’s blooming.

It’s been a long cold, lonely winter (as The Beatles wold say). I’ve been busy with clinical work, getting immersed in front-line sexual health counselling. Lots of time spent discussing the in’s and out’s of Sexually Transmitted Infections (STI’s) and HIV/AIDS than ever before in the last year, as opposed to the in’s and out’s of vibrators and dildos.

I do, however, on occasion, have the opportunity to get back into “the fun stuff” and talk about sexual pleasure. Whether it’s a G-Spot workshop at Good For Her, a community workshops for women in Peterborough, or a Stagette party, it’s a great opportunity to really talk about sex, what makes it great and what makes it challenging!

Here are a few of my observations – or musings – if you will.

Learning how to pleasure a partner is really about getting down to the nitty gritty of what WE like. How can you please someone else fully if you are not sure what will make it fun for YOU. Pleasing them is often about how we receive pleasure ourselves. This can be tricky…

As I sat down with a group of women to discuss “Pleasuring Him” recently, this all became very apparent, or re-aparent as it were. I have always tried to taper each workshop to who is in the room at the time, instead of coming at it with predetermined content that I have to get through. I was discovering, again, how women talk about sex, or don’t talk about it, or talk around it. What an opportunity for learning an all accounts!

“Pleasuring Him” turned into much more. It was a 2hr gab session about what each woman enjoys and what each might find difficult to discuss with a partner or need some support in navigating and negotiating.

In order to hold confidences, I can’t get into details here, but there are many examples of this that have come up over the years of teaching groups, and the vast majority of groups I have taught have been for women, and of these, primarily straight women.

Here’s what I’ve noticed: 

 – people have a hard time talking to their partners

 – those that do have somehow figured out how to support themselves and their desires

 – no matter how much one knows about sex or how much experience someone has had, there may still be areas that are difficult to talk about (sex educators are included in this *wink)

 – sex is a process, just as learning about sex is a process. Heck, learning about anything and living life is a process and it’s never over, until it’s over. 

 – our own judgements are what keeps us from having better sex: judgements about what our partner(s) may think of us, what our friend’s might think, and for some it comes down to upbringing and culture “if God only knows”

 – this judgement extend to what is the “right” way or “normal” way to have sex…

here’s one example…

Intercourse. Fucking. Doing IT. Going “all the way“. When will the script change? When can PIV (penis-in-vagina-sex) be one part of an enjoyable sex life, instead of the centre of it all? Don’t get me wrong, penetration is great and all but I continually hear women, and some men complain about the pressure around it. The guys are trying to last long enough for her to come, she’s trying to come without much clitoral stimulation, and there is often some level of dissatisfaction felt by all.

When we talk about “foreplay” what is it “fore” anyway? BEFORE what? sex? And what is sex? 

Lot’s of questions and there is no right answer. Perhaps we can consider all sex to be “core play” (I heard this somewhere and do not know if there is an original source, quoting Anon.).  Can we mix up the script? How about oral only? The old “everything but”. Or penetration with fingers, toys and other fun sexy games – ending with some oral or a vibrator to keep the pressure off making her come from intercourse. Once you experiment with this for a while, then add the PIV back in and see what happens.

Today’s homework:

Queer your sex! Yes, that’s what I said – there is always more to learn about sex and new ways to d it. Queer it up a bit, try something new. There are tons of resources and references out there. Shop online so no one has to see you, dare yourself to go to a women-friendly, sex-positive sexuality shop, buy a book about sex, write down a fantasy that you may never show or share with anyone. Your sex is for you, and you get to decide what to do with it. Have fun! Remember: there’s always more to learn about sex 😉

 

 

Playground

I’ll be at Playground: Sexuality and Relationships Conference this weekend! http://playgroundconf.com/
I’m involved in 2 panels and a performative piece entitles “How to Find A G-Spot” . Tickets still available, see event site for details.

http://playgroundconf.com/

Or
on Facebook: Playground Conference

Sexy people, sexy talk, sexy learning…

I have a feeling some musing will come of this weekend. I look forward to sharing them.

 

 

How to buy a sex toy… part 1

Recently, a friend asked if they could give someone my contact as they knew a young woman who was interested in exploring her sexuality on her own with toys. I was excited by this, as usual, since I love talking about sex, I love sex toys, and I think it’s great for all women to explore their sexuality on their own terms.

Here, for the most part, is the content of that email, including links to toys, sex shop sites, and lots of advice.  A great bunch of info for anyone doing some toy shopping. Enjoy!

Toys are a great way to explore your sexuality on your own - while single or in relationship.

The broad selection of toys can be overwhelming.  To start, I usually recommend considering a few questions:

1) what do you want to do with it? internal /external, maybe both? do you want it to vibrate?

  • I usually recommend a vibrator for first toys, usually pretty fun and if you don’t like the vibe part, and it’ got some length/versatility, you can just use it for penetration.
 2) cost – how much do you want to invest, considering materials, batteries/rechargeable/cost of batteries
3) power – for vibrators, do you find you want something that had the potential of lots of power? or are you easily orgasmic and rather minimal power
4) Materials – some are better quality than others
5) Is sound/noise a factor? Most toys are quiet but depending on your housing situation/ roommates/family, this may make a difference
6) Appearance – what you pick should look cute/sexy/fun to you (no matter how great it is supposed to be) – then perhaps you can also choose the colour.

Where do you live? If you are in a city  most have a decent sex shop, and if you are lucky, they might have a women-oriented shop.

Here are a few great places to look around. Most will ship internationally.

For my Canadians: Toronto, Ottawa, and Halifax have good women-oriented sex shops. Most also offer online ordering so you don’ t have to leave the house. Although, a hands-on experience when they have demos of the toys displayed is really helpful when you are starting out.

http://www.goodforher.com – Toronto

http://www.ecosex.ca / http://www.redtentssisters.com – Toronto

http://www.venusenvy.ca – Ottawa /Halifax

And in the US:

http://www.babeland.com

http://www.goodvibrations.ca

These are also great places to look for sex advice, tips, blogs, and new toys.

For specific toys recommendations (going back to the questions above):

I would suggest checking out the selection at http://www.goodforher.com and specifically the links below. Most sites listed will have the same toys or similar ones.

My top suggestions for starter toys are the toys that go by the names:

  •  Moxie- versatile, little, great material, good value for the money, http://goodforher.com/moxie_vibrator
  • Ocean Rechargeable – similar to moxie but slightly more curve, “dual action”, rechargeable (no batteries, http://goodforher.com/ocean_rechargeable_dual_vibrator
  • Power Bullet G – versatile, high vibration, curved for g-spot, inexpensive, http://goodforher.com/power_bullet_g
  •  Galan Silicone Vibe – if you want more length, http://goodforher.com/galan_g2_vibrator

These are just a few suggestions to get you started. Have a look around the site and read the descriptions.
You may not purchase for Good For Her, and that is fine, but I think there selection and site is pretty good. (unfortunately, their “buying a vibe” page is out of date – I just sent them and email and they in the midst of updating).

Seeking a toy review? Further suggestions. Please leave comments below.

Hope you enjoy your journey in toy land.

Porn Reborn?

*Adult Content, proceed with caution*

Recently I attended an evening conference entitled PORN REBORN – New Movements and Markets in Pornography presented by The Sexual Diversity Studies Student Union at the University of Toronto.

I guess I am going to have to admit to watching porn.  Yes, I have watched quite a bit.  Working in a retail environment where I am recommending movie to people seemed like a good reason to start.  Years later, I still like to watch it.  Sometimes for professional reasons, sometimes personal.  The one thing I have noticed is that there is a lot more choice available, especially for women.  We have more options than ever before!  It is true that the majority of pron is made with men in mind.  What if it was made with women in mind?

Tristan Taormino, the keynote speaker,  asks and answers this question. Tristan has contributed immensely to what is now considered to be “feminist porn”.  This term is often considered an oxymoron, impossible, or somehow threatening to how we perceive porn. Tristan took us on a journey through the history of feminist porn, from Candida Royalle, to Playgirl, and then on to Tristan’s own films which move away from the typical “soft and romantic” style associated with “women’s” porn. I just love history, especially when it has to do with sex and feminism! Through one of the largest mainstream porn companies in the U.S., Vivid, Tristan has been able to create instructional movies and unique porn that appeal to women as well as men.  She asks what if the porn stars get to decide who they have sex with, what they do and when they do it?  This gives the performers more control over their representation and control over their working environment!

While there is nothing wrong with the “softer” side of porn, a formula created by pioneer Candida Royalle in the early 1990’s, some women actually want to watch something more explicit.  As Tristan point out, most mainstream companies now have “couples” lines based on this formula, where story is the main focus, soft lighting and no up-close genital shots.

Some of us might like something a little more explicit, no?   Tristan’s line of Chemistry films are revolutionary.  I was calling them “cross-over” films for the last few years – porn stars, explicit sex, no scripts and *gonzo format make them a little mainstream.  But there is one main difference, the performers make most of the decisions! She even interviews them.  As Tristan puts it, these performers don’t need scripts, and should not be required to “act” in some made up characters, they ARE characters already.  And  “acting” is not what they are best at.  Why not let them do what they do really well – and we call guess what that is! Something happens when the viewer gets a chance to get to know them and we might get a little more invested in watching these people have sex.

*Gonzo is a way of shooting porn where the camera is acknowledged and the performers might actually speak to the camera.

I highly recommend watching one of Tristan’s Chemistry films, there are four volumes so far, #1 is my favourite.  Maybe it is the fact that the format was so new and groundbreaking, or the combo of the performers, who knows.  It was just plain HOT!

Tristan also has a full line of “Expert Guides” as well, and maybe next time I will post a full review.  They are sexy, full of great education, and might even turn you on!

Find Tristan’s films at your favourite sex shop.  Here are a few of mine:

Canada:

www.goodforher.com

www.redtentsisters.com

U.S.

www.puckerup.com

I want to thank the Sexuality Studies Student Union, and the panel of speakers from the event for a fabulous evening.  I think I might need to look into seeing some on Bruce LaBruce’s films in the new future!

The Panel:

TRISTAN TAORMINO, an award-winning author, sex educator, and feminist pornographer.

BRUCE LABRUCE, a Toronto based pornographer writer, photographer, and artist.

SHERRIE QUINN, a 4th-year Philosophy and Sexual Diversity Studies student.

BRENDA COSSMAN,  the Director of the Mark S.Bonham Centre for Sexual Diversity Studies, and professor of family law, gender and law, and law and film.

And remember, not all porn is created equal!

You, me and the vulva puppet!

Yes, Vulva Puppet ! That is what I said. How does that sound? ludicrous? impossible? unlikely? or common? And perhaps the word Vulva is in question: Historically and medically this term has been used to define the outside genital structures of a women, clitoris, hood, labia and openings. Over the last several years it has been more commonly used as a term for women’s genitals in their entirety. Sounds better than “genitals” doesn’t it? We could use other terms such as “down there”, yoni, pom-pom, poonani, and recently I heard hoo-hoo. Regardless we could all use a little more understanding of what the parts are, how they are interconnected and most of all, how to have fun with them! I have been teaching workshops lately where my handy dandy Vulva Puppet is the main feature and tool to help women and men understand more about women’s bodies and sexy bits.

The puppet is made of hand-sewn velvet and silk…and has a g-spot too! Something about the puppet that causes surprise, discomfort, laughter and questions. Perhaps we do not see enough visuals of female genitalia that exhibits taste and style?

What if we all had the chance to slip a hand into a puppet such as this and spend some quality time getting to know all of the structures, feeling, exploring, and relating it to our own bodily experiences?

For the puppets:

http://www.houseochicks.com

what is a vulva:

http://www.plannedparenthood.org/teen-talk/body-mind/anatomy/vulva-an-owners-manual-25172.htm