My 2019 Goals

My 2019 goals!

My 2019 goals!

I realize I’m a bit late to the “new year, new me” resolution season blog posts. I personally love any reason to take a look at life and consider what I can improve, and this year it took me a little longer than just January 1st to decide how I wanted to move forward. I took time to consider all the main factors of my life and considered what was going well and what needed some work. From there, I came up with a few things I’d like to achieve in the upcoming year:

1 Find passion and creativity in my career.

This is quite the ongoing saga, isn’t it? I swear I change careers like some people change their bed sheets. Slowly I have been pinpointing and fine-tuning just what it is that aligns my passions with a career. In 2019, I plan to make enough money doing what I love that I don’t have to stretch my time with a full time position just to pay our bills. If i calculated how much time I spend on unpaid work (the work that sets my soul on fire) I would probably shed a tear or two. I suppose it doesn’t need much more elaborating than that, the goal being to work just as hard, if not harder, and get paid doing it.

Steps to get there:

Staying grateful for each opportunity

Utilize my Master’s program and education

Stay consistent

2. Read 50 books

For a while I abandoned by most treasured hobby of reading to pursue travel and my education, but now that I have picked reading back up, I want to aim for 50 books this year. I will keep my Goodreads updated throughout the year to measure my progress!

3. Keep growing on Instagram, without focusing on numbers

I hope to continue creating visually appealing photos for my bookstagram page. A year ago I would never guess that this would be a 2019 goal, but here we are! I am wholly unfocused on numbers, I learned that lesson the hard way before. I do want to test various posting times and days, but more for professional growth and skillset than anything. I want to grow in quality, not in quantity. I want to grow in connections via comments rather than hollow likes. There are so many people still to connect with on bookstagram and in the Potterverse!

4. Be approved for one major ARC

An ARC is an advanced reader copy; a copy of the book sent to reviewers prior to the official publishing date. I really want to make connections with publishing contacts and be approved to review one ARC on my social channels and blog!

Steps to get there:

Establish an up-to-date contact list for major publishing companies

Develop an email template that includes what I have done/can do and the monetary worth

Stay persistent and don’t get discouraged!

5. Focus on optimizing my blog

While YouTube is super fun, and I would love to grow there as well, I ultimately prefer writing to talking so I want to place the focus in 2019 on learning more about SEO and how to get traffic directed to my book reviews in this space. Not only do I want to get the traffic, but maintain it!


That’s it! I’m not trying to change my whole life over here (that was so 2018), I’m just trying to improve on the life I already love. What are your goals for this year?

Review: 'People Like Us' by Dana Mele

A review of  People Like Us  by Dana Mele

A review of People Like Us by Dana Mele


Another Boarding School?

I don’t quite remember where I first saw this book recommended. It could have been on social media or on someone’s blog at one point or another; wherever it was, the title had stuck with me. People Like Us is a young adult mystery/thriller set at, you guessed it, a boarding school. If you aren’t subscribed to my YouTube channel, you may not know yet that one of my guilty pleasures happens to be YA fiction set at boarding schools. A multitude of books are set at boarding schools, and it seems that I have read at least half of them. At some point it just became a cliche, and yet I still go back for more. If you are like me in this way, you’ll enjoy the blend of predictable prep school elements with unpredictable suspense.

People Like Us brushes up against the likes of Mean Girls and Thirteen Reasons Why and lands somewhere in the middle. The characters felt nuanced and complex while simple enough that the long list didn’t feel overwhelming. Kay, our main protagonist, has pretty one dimensional relationships with her friends, but there are a couple exceptions to this: she is potentially in love with her best friend Brie, at the very least attracted to her. A ways into the story we meet Nola, a classmate who has always been seen as weird. I very much appreciated that Mele treats the main character’s sexuality as just a fact of the story, and that all of them seem to be fairly sexually fluid.

From the onset, i felt drawn in. Dana Mele does an excellent job with her pacing and atmosphere, and my attention was rapt from the start. Peppered throughout are quotes like, “I gaze into her eyes and look for my shadow self somewhere”. I mean, come on. How can’t you highlight the hell out of lines like that?

Mele brings up some interesting points about the human condition. We all make mistakes, some of us do bad things. Does that mean we deserve bad things to happen to us? Overall this is quite a dark psychological thriller, and I wouldn’t recommend it for immature audiences.

As I said, the pacing was great throughout, but it’s almost as if Mele ran out of steam at the end. It just felt like things fell a bit flat, like it was a rush to the end. Details are revealed about Nola that needed to be further fleshed out, or not even mentioned at all. And once we do finally get to the motive, it’s almost as if it’s mentioned in passing.

Something to take note of, if suicide if a trigger for you, please know that before reading. Mental health seems like it should be a big topic in this book, but somehow isn’t addressed properly, and for that I was disappointed.

Who This Book Is For

Overall, a good read. Dana Mele is on my radar for the future. If you enjoy Mean Girls, Thirteen Reasons Why, Riverdale, etc. I am sure you will enjoy this book as well.


Have you read People Like Us? What did you think?

19 Books I Want To Read in 2019

Follow  my bookstagram  account!

Follow my bookstagram account!

I had quite the epiphany lately, and will be doing more bookish posts in this space. More on that in 2019. I thought a great place to start was the books that I am most looking forward to reading in the coming months.

Some of the following books have already been released, while others will be releasing in the coming year. I have included a link to a brief synopsis of each book. They have also all been added to my Goodreads account, if you want to follow along with my current reads and what I’m rating them.

Happy reading, bookworms. . .


19 Books I Want To Read in 2019:

  1. Renegades by Marissa Meyer

  2. People Like Us by Dana Mele

  3. The 7½ Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle by Stuart Turton (Apparently the US version had to add the ‘1/2’ but it is the same book as The 7 Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle)

  4. Turtles All the Way Down by John Green

  5. Shades of Magic series by VE Schwab (A Darker Shade of Magic, A Gathering of Shadows, and A Conjuring of Light)

  6. Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens

  7. Sadie by Courtney Summers

  8. The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid

  9. The Priory of the Orange Tree by Samantha Shannon (February 2019)

  10. Crazy Rich Asians trilogy by Kevin Kwan

  11. The Diviners Libba Bray

  12. The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

  13. Us Against You (Beartown, #2)  by Fredrik Backman

  14. A Man Called Ove by  Fredrik Backman

  15. Again, But Better by Christine Riccio (May 2019)

  16. The Case for Jamie (Charlotte Holmes #3) by Brittany Cavallaro

  17. Era of Ignition: Coming of Age in a Time of Rage and Revolution by Amber Tamblyn (March 2019)

  18. City of Girls by Elizabeth Gilbert (June 2019)

  19. The Recovering: Intoxication and Its Aftermath by Leslie Jamison


I hope you all enjoyed this post and found it helpful for planning your own reads for 2019. What are some books on your TBR pile?

My Journey to the Tarot (What is Tarot, how to choose a deck, and more)

Photo credit:  Sara Myers

Photo credit: Sara Myers

If you follow me on Instagram, you have probably noticed an increase in the amount that I talk about Tarot. I have been sharing things little by little, and thought it was time to write it all in one place. This post will outline how I came to the Tarot, what the fuck Tarot even is, how to choose a deck, what Tarot is good for, and how I use it in my own life.


Okay, so what is Tarot?

The Tarot is a deck of 78 cards, each with its own imagery, symbolism and story. The deck is made up of 22 Major Arcana cards (Big Energy and big life lessons) and 56 Minor Arcana cards (the things we experience on a daily basis). The Minor Arcana includes 40 numbered cards organized by suits, with 10 cards each, representing various situations that we encounter. To put it simply, Tarot is simply a tool. How you want to use it is completely up to you.

Tarot reading is the practice of gleaning Universal wisdom and guidance through a specific spread (or layout) of Tarot cards via your intuition. The cards do not simply tell your fortune, and one does not have to be a psychic to give Tarot readings.

What can it be used for?

Tarot is perfect for self-development, mental clarity, financial planning, making decisions, manifesting goals, relationship advice, writing a book, meditating—whatever you might want to consult the Tarot about, that’s what it can be used for.

I use the  Starchild Tarot  deck

I use the Starchild Tarot deck

How do you choose a deck?

There are SO many Tarot decks to choose from. There are traditional Rider-Waite decks that are simple that you can find on Amazon that are great for learning. However, I didn’t feel particularly moved by the imagery of the traditional deck. I would recommend that you visit your local metaphysical shop and look through their deck options. Thankfully, a good friend of mine brought me to the Tarot and took me to a shop in Durham, North Carolina that had all of the decks that they sold open so you can finger through the cards and see each one. This is my recommendation, actually hold the options in your hands, look at the photos. If the imagery isn’t speaking to your soul, it isn’t your deck. Now, this is just my advice, you could very easily just choose your first deck to learn with and that will be fine. I plan on purchasing other decks as I get more business so that clients have the option to choose which deck they would like for me to perform their reading with.

How do you choose a spread?

Just as there are many decks to choose from, there are many spreads as well. And you can even make up your own. A spread is how you lay out the Tarot cards and can be anywhere from a 3 card to a 10 card (or more) layout.

If you are new to Tarot, I would recommend getting comfortable with 3 card spreads such as Past, Present and Future or Situation, Outcome, Advice before moving onto the Celtic Cross or other more complicated spreads. Check the booklet that came with your deck, there may be some spread layouts provided to help you start.

Do I need to cleanse my cards?

Yes. It is important that you clean and cleanse your cards regularly to maintain a positive connection. Sometimes very heavy and dark things will come up in your readings, and you don’t want that energy to linger. You will probably know when you need to cleanse your cards, I can tell because they just don’t feel right. Once you start trusting your intuition, you’ll see what I mean. You will definitely want to cleanse a new deck, or if they have been sitting without being used for a while, your cards have fallen, you feel disconnected from the deck. I also clean my cards between readings for other people.

A cheap and easy way to cleanse your cards are with a moon bath. Stick the cards outside or in a window sill on a full moon to charge the cards and clear the energy. Of course you can also smudge the cards with Sage or Palo Santo but be mindful about where it is being harvested from.

My Tarot Ritual

I personally pull a card every single morning and then write that card and its meaning into my journal. Sometimes I pull the journal back out in the evening to see if that morning pull makes sense. This is a great way for me to know what challenges might lay ahead in the day, what tools I might need to tackle the day ahead, anything of that sort. I sit in a comfortable seat, light Palo Santo, choose a crystal to meditate with, and then shuffle and do my pull. This is my favorite ritual, as beneficial to my health as the gym or eating healthy.

I do a more in-depth spread on myself about once a week, or if I have a decision or something pressing that I need Divine wisdom for. If there is an issue that I feel I cannot be objective about, I consult another Tarot reader to have them read for me.

I hope that you found this super helpful and informative. The Tarot has definitely changed my life, and it can change yours, too. If you would like to book a reading with me, please follow the link below.

Tarot Reading
25.00 35.00

Tarot is a powerful tool. You don’t necessarily need to believe in magic, but you do need to be committed to your self growth and believe in your capacity to evolve. I will not be telling you the exact future, but the Tarot will reveal where you need to let go, where you should lean in, and what you should be watching for on the horizon.

Quantity:
Get Your Reading

Can Living with Less Make Room for More Joy?

Photo styled and shot  by Boho-tique

Photo styled and shot by Boho-tique

I am continually amazed at the impact that a “minimalist” approach is having on my life. I have certainly baby-stepped my way into the lifestyle, and wanted to finish the year challenging myself to opt out of spending money on “things”. Our culture has programmed us to constantly be on the lookout for the next best thing. I will be finding ways to live better with less in order to make room for more joy. Interested in finding out more or even joining the challenge yourself? Continue reading to learn more on how I define minimalism, what I mean by no more spending and how we can stop being victims to consumer culture.

76 days until 2019. Is it possible to close out the year using what you already have? Is it possible to live with less and make room for more joy? I think it is. I recently moved from my small home in West Virginia to an even smaller apartment in California. I have been slowly ridding my life and closet of clutter, with the move inspiring me to sell and donate over half of my belongings. Since moving into the studio apartment, I just feel more at ease. There isn’t “stuff” everywhere, it’s easier to clean, my mind feels clearer and I don’t have a storage space somewhere filled to the brim with clutter waiting on me. Now, I am 100% not a “typical minimalist” and I’m not asking you to sell your house and live tiny. I own more than 1 pair of jeans, I still own too many shoes, I still like clothes. By no means is this a “who can be the perfect minimalist” challenge. No ma’am. This is more about seeking more joy and less clutter in our lives. This is about impacting our mental health, our creativity, the climate, our humanity in a more positive way.

Minimalism and Mental Health

There are studies that indicate a direct link between minimalism and better mental health. I wrote more about my own experience on Clutch MOV. Since I wrote that article, I have had more time to see it unfold in my life. I feel so much better when surfaces aren’t overcrowded with things, when I don’t have to spend time and energy rifling through my closet or drawers…everything just feels more peaceful. My anxiety still flares up, of course, but it isn’t as triggered by being at home or by this recurring feeling I used to get to clean and clear my space. The awareness of self and the intricate human connection with Mother Nature is lost in this notion that “just one more handbag will make me happier”. All of this “stuff” numbs us and incapacitates us so that we are unable to fully and completely sit with ourselves. It becomes very difficult to practice true mindfulness, peace and harmony with ourselves when we are constantly looking elsewhere for happiness, joy, and the next best thing. Is this resonating? Let’s break the “next best thing” cycle, together.

Living Better With Less

When I say that I am not spending money on things for the rest of the year, I don’t mean a no spending challenge. This isn’t about saving money or spending less money. That is, of course, an indirect side effect, but I just don’t want to spend money on items. I will be spending money on food, experiences or things I might actually need (like medicine). I will not be spending money on clothes, home decor, accessories, technology or knick-knacks. This will be a real challenge for me, but I have some ideas on how I can make it work. If this sounds Big and Scary to you, it’s okay. This is all about making room for more joy in our lives. I will be sending out tips and resources like TED talks, articles, books, my own updates + more via email over the coming weeks.

Re-Imagine and Reconnect

Have you ever lived somewhere that you could run to the neighbor when you were out of sugar? Let’s use this same principle in our #MakeRoomForJoyChallenge by counting on others when we need it. By living with less, we make room for nurturing new and old connections. We can swap clothes at a thrift store, borrow from friends, family or neighbors. If something breaks? Learn to fix it, or ask someone to fix it. Maybe you learn to stitch or use a handsaw. I also really want to encourage using one item for many things. I recently had my mind blown when someone suggested wearing a blanket scarf as a skirt. We get so accustomed to things being only one way, we often stifle our own creativity and imagination by blindly accepting. Let your creativity and imagination run free. Don’t allow consumer culture to dictate what and how much you need.

100% borrowed look, don’t let the media tell you that borrowed isn’t beautiful.

100% borrowed look, don’t let the media tell you that borrowed isn’t beautiful.

Consumer Culture

Every day, all day long, you are being bombarded by clever marketing messages telling you that You Must Spend Money or You Need This Thing. We know we don’t actually need it but we are socially, culturally, economically, and psychologically invested in this system. Our everyday life experiences, our relationships with friends and loved ones, our practices of leisure and amusement, and our personal goals and identities are all tied to the culture in which we were raised. Many of us measure our self-worth by how much money we make, and by the quantity, quality, and newness of stuff we are able to buy.

Is it possible to have a sustainable consumer culture? Even those of us that are critically aware of the implications of production, consumption, and waste, can’t help but want more. Sustainable brands are still dependent on our culture of consumption, they still chant to us “you must buy this”. Yes, there are great options out there that I would recommend, but I am challenging myself and all of you to live with that you already have. This challenge is about becoming mindful of our consumption in order to be creative with what we already have. I think we all might find that what we have is more than enough, and that living with less will make room for much more joy.

Not Ready to Totally Commit?

Understandable! First of all, this challenge is NOT about being “perfect”. I am putting that in quotations because it doesn’t exist so stop chasing it. Don’t feel like you can’t participate in the challenge just because you might end up being something(s). But, if you 100% know you aren’t up to accepting this particular challenge, but want to take steps in that direction, I wanted to offer a few tips on how you could start your minimalist journey.

  • Clean out your closet - I mean, really clean it out. If you haven’t worn it in a month, donate it. If you are holding onto it for a “special occasion” or for your body to be different, get rid of it. If you don’t absolutely love it, it doesn’t have a purpose.

  • Get thrifty - If there are some clothing items you need to purchase check out a local thrift store. My personal favorite places to find cute secondhand items are Golden Trash, Collage WV, Poshmark or Boho-tique.

  • Buy reusable Items - Instead of buying items that are poorly made or single-use, opt to purchase things that will last a long time. Items like reusable water bottles, bamboo cutlery, well-made sustainable clothing rather than fast fashion and quality footwear.

  • Do you really need it? - Ask yourself this question every single time you find yourself about to make a purchase. Do you really need it? Or is the really clever marketing making you believe that you do? Do you absolutely love it? Take a moment to check in, practicing mindfulness in this way will spill over to other areas of your life, as well. . .

Watch my YouTube video  that explains a little more…

Watch my YouTube video that explains a little more…

Want to join the challenge? I will be sending out tips and resources via email (you can sign up here). Use hashtag #MakeRoomForJoyChallenge on social media and tag me on Instagram so I can follow your journey and other participants can find you as well!

Anxiety of Enough + Chill Vibes Playlist

Watercolor  inspired by all things beautiful and natural by  Sophia Longas

Watercolor inspired by all things beautiful and natural by Sophia Longas

Anxiety of Enough

I say I want it.

I mean, I know I do.

Or, I think I do?

But, do I want it badly enough?

Am I working hard enough?

Am I spending all the time I could, or should, be?

Maybe I should be sending more emails

Maybe I should be furiously, exhaustively, writing...

Creating

Maybe it should all be pouring out of me at every waking moment

That's what I've been told, anyway

The only way to make a decent living from creating is to hustle hard enough that you tread water instead of drown in it

That the only way to beat out the competition is to work harder, do more, be better

Give 110% of everything you’ve got

I guess we'll find out, won't we?

I'll either pave my own way or I'll be a victim of the cycle

At a young age, somehow, I understood mortality in a way most kids don't seem to.

I chose time, experiences, over money

I've been acutely aware ever since that the best investment of my limited time on earth was to spend it doing things that I love, with people that I love.

I guess it's possible I will be on my deathbed, wishing I had hustled harder.

Regretting that I didn't say everything that I had to say

But

I think what I will really wish is that I could have one more long talk with Danny

One last good, hard laugh

Time to explore one more new place

In a world that demands output more than input

That puts pressure on being Someone

on creating Something

An expectation to share infinitely, to work infinitely

Go at your own pace

Life is too short

too fleeting

to be so busy.

CBD and Sex: Does Marijuana Make Sex Better?

Want to save this to read later? Pin the post to your Pinterest boards!

Want to save this to read later? Pin the post to your Pinterest boards!

I wanted to address 2 of my favorite topics in one post: marijuana and sex. Many of you know that I am a regular user of CBD (and THC). Does high sex equal better sex? If you are curious about how CBD could benefit your sex life, this post is for you. Or, if you are just curious about how I personally benefit from the uses of marijuana in regards to my sex life, read on.

What is the difference?

I wanted to quickly explain the differences in CBD and THC for those of you that are unfamiliar. Until recently, the most well-known compound in cannabis was THC. This is the most active ingredient in marijuana (and the one that alters the mind and makes you high). Marijuana contains both THC and CBD, but the compounds have different effects on the body. Unlike THC, CBD is not psychoactive. This means that you will not be getting stoned.

CBD and sex

Anxiety can get in the way of a great sex life for many reasons. One of the biggest benefits of CBD for me personally is how it helps to alleviate my anxiety. You can read more about my experience with CBD here. I often cannot get out of my head when having sex—arousal, taste, smell, money, what I will do tomorrow, what I will do 14 years from now … the list goes on. Smoking, vaping, or dabbing a high-CBD strain or concentrate before sex can help get you out of your head and into your body. It helps you be more mindful and present with your partner, and this is the greatest benefit for me personally. There are also plenty of people that do not want to get high so CBD offers medicinal benefits without having to experience a psychoactive change.

Foria Wellness’ Awaken deserves a try

Foria Wellness’ Awaken deserves a try

One of the wonderful benefits of CBD is that it helps with chronic pain. I sometimes have issues with vaginal dryness depending on the time of month, and decided to try out this CBD lube. This may not be in everyone’s budget, but if it is, wow. It heightened the sensations and length of my orgasm. I don’t struggle with painful intercourse, but if you do, this is definitely something to look into. CBD is known for its impact on pain and vaginal pain is no exception. Something to note on this lube, though, I do not use condoms because I have a long-term partner and an IUD but this lube is NOT safe to use with latex.

THC and sex

THC is beneficial because it actually shifts your mind. This can translate to heightened sensitivity (things feel better, taste better, etc.) as well as easing tensions and mental blockages. For me, THC is more effective in alleviating my anxiety and stress than CBD because of said mental shift. THC increases my libido as well; I just want to have more sex when I’m high. This is supported by a population-based study by Stanford University's Department of Urology and Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology found a positive correlation between marijuana use and the amount that people were having sex.

As with anything, there are cons. THC is known for its dehydrating side effects and this is also true for vaginal dryness. Be prepared with lubrication! Another possible con is that you will be considered “under the influence” and depending on the situation, you could make choices that you otherwise wouldn’t if you were sober. Know your partner, trust your partner, communicate with your partner, always.

The verdict?

What works for me and what works for you will be different. If you are interested in how CBD or THC could enhance your sex life, I would recommend experimenting with various doses and paying attention to the effects on your body and mind. If you live in a marijuana legal state, visit your local dispensary and talk to an expert on different strains and their effects.

Be safe and have fun. And let me know if there are any cannabis-based products you have tried or are curious to try! Do you have a sex, relationship, or intimacy question? Email me at Kate@k8canrelate.com for your topics to be addressed in a future post.

How I'm Coping with Big Life Changes

Photo by:  @andiwanders

Photo by: @andiwanders

It is the first day of October. My favorite month, in fact. I thought it was about time to shake the dust off of the laptop, and tell you why I haven’t been writing lately.

Have you ever felt like you aren’t sure what you want to do with your life? Do you ever feel like none of what you are spending your time, energy and resources on really matters? Does your motivation ever just vanish? Hello, and welcome to a little life event I like to call an existential crisis. I got married and moved across the country within a span of one week. Existential crisis, comin’ right up!

Before deciding to move to California, I had a list of projects that I was working on. It seemed like I was doing a photo shoot every week with a local photographer. I was meeting new movers and shakers in my community. I was attending events and networking. I was getting freelance work for social media influencing and creating. I had received some basic training on launching a podcast and purchased the equipment. I wrote an e-book with plans for a second.

If everything was so great, why did I decide to move?

I have wanted to move for a very long time. West Virginia was my home but never quite felt like home. I was very grateful that in the months leading up to my move, I was able to see it in a new light. I felt like there was more long term opportunity in California, especially in the fields of work I hope to be in. I also have always (always) wanted to live by the beach and in a politically progressive place. And I wanted more access to vegan food (and other vegans!) I really do love it here. I wasn’t quite expecting, though, to lose so much of my excitement and fervor for my projects. I guess, maybe, I have been a bit too hard on myself and not hard enough, all at once. On the one hand, I have only lived here a very short amount of time. On the other, I could sit down and get the podcast going, I could sit down and produce multiple blog posts. I just haven’t felt like creating, and that is why I am writing this and doing it anyway.

Sometimes, it isn’t about what you feel like doing. It’s just fucking doing it anyway. It’s about believing in yourself. It’s allowing yourself space to question if anything you are doing matters, while also moving forward with the conviction that it does.

So, how am I coping?

Some days I cry a lot. Some days I laugh a lot. Sometimes it’s both in the same day. I have been going to the beach as much as possible. I have been exploring my new city, sometimes I feel brave enough to do this on my own and sometimes I don’t. I have been spending time with the friends that I have here. I have been working out, eating healthy. Sometimes I bite Danny’s head off for no reason and other times I collapse into his chest. I have been avoiding this blog. I have been mentally selling my talent (and myself) short.

What’s my advice?

Look, life is messy. And sometimes life is just really fucking tough. Give yourself some credit, though. And stop being so hard on yourself. I’m not telling you that the scariest thing you will ever do is to say “yes” to that scary decision you have been thinking about. Honestly? The scariest part will probably come after. The magic is in the follow through. The magic is in the patience, the trust. Find the courage, and keep the courage. And some days, allow yourself to fall apart if that is what you need. Take a hiatus. Take deep breaths. Do whatever you need to live a fearlessly full life of your wildest imagination.

Bet on yourself. Go all in.

What scary decisions have you been considering lately?

Feeling Sexy with the Light ON

Feeling sexy with  As You Are Boudoir

Feeling sexy with As You Are Boudoir

I get asked a lot how I feel sexy *even with the lights on*. Most women hold back during sex because they aren't 100% confident about the way their body looks. Maybe you have flipped the lights off and gotten under the covers before you let your partner see you. When we live in this state of shame, self-consciousness or mental distraction we are totally pussy-blocking ourselves and missing out on the joy of connection. So let's talk about how we can love ourselves a little more and leave those lights on.

When you spend time worrying about what body parts may be too soft, too jiggly, too saggy, too small, you end up ruining your own good time (and your partners).

We've all read and heard time and time again that the key to looking and feeling sexy is confidence. But it is never that simple. If you find yourself freaking out about being on top because of your belly rolls, or reaching to turn the lights out every time things get frisky you're making yourself enjoy it less by not being present in the moment. Not to mention you are missing out on a lot of fun! It isn't fair to deny yourself of those simple but profound joys in life.

Throughout this journey these past few years, I have really been confronted with my own self loathing. It might come as a shock that I can still go to those places of calling myself names, comparing and finding myself stuck staring in the mirror. Yes, I have conquered body shame and self acceptance by embracing my sexual pleasure but that doesn't mean that I don't still struggle. It doesn't mean sometimes I don't want to turn the lights off. There are days when I forgo having sex because my shame demons are roaring so loudly between my ears that I can't even fathom being intimate.

Photo by As You Are Boudoir

Photo by As You Are Boudoir

Am I a fake— or am I simply keepin' it real? I guess you get to be the judge of that, friends. I have been able to heal so much of the damage that I have walked around with for most of my life when it comes to my sexuality and my body. But everyday, when I wake up and start my day anew, it takes a little bit of courage to love myself just as I am. On those days that I wake up with bloat, it's a little harder than other days. On the days when there is stress in my life and I feel overwhelmed, I am most quick to attack my own self. 

Self loving is a practice. Feeling sexy is a practice. Let's practice together.

Yes, we will have hard days. If you are just starting out on your self-love journey, know that there will be more difficult days than easy. It may take you months before you feel ready to start feeling confident with the lights on. But know that it is worth it, and that you are capable.  I want you to love yourself in and out of the bedroom, with the lights on and the lights off, upside down and right-side up. It’s time to bring your sexy back. Find out how I quiet those voices in my head and start feeling sexy...

I have linked my ebook below which outlines all of the ways that I was able to find my self-confidence and revolutionize my sexuality. Practicing these steps allowed for me to feel more loving, confident and sexy in my own damn skin, and that shit is priceless. 

Vegan Donuts & Morning Sex eBook
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5 simple and easy vegan breakfast recipes, 10 tips and tools to empower you to feel like your sexiest self & a few surprises. . .

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Came Through Drippin' (and Squirting?)

Ecstasy Flowers via  Ouvra

Ecstasy Flowers via Ouvra

Curious about squirting? Same. Maybe you do it, saw it in porn, or have just heard about it and want to know more. Squirting is one of the biggest urban legends of sex. It's like, the Loch Ness Monster of sex. You hear stories, rumors, etc. and it gets built up to this mythical phenomena of select females. So, let's talk about it. 

Okay, first of all, let's get our facts straight. 

A recent study in the Journal of Sexual Medicine studied seven self-identified squirters. (Obviously, a larger sample size would be ideal, but it’s probably not easy to find females who squirt and who agree to do it for the sake of science.) The findings came back to conclude that this fluid is basically diluted urine. Essentially, squirting = peeing.

"Ew, oh my god, pee!" We all pee. Literally all of us. Let's not make it a thing, okay? It is not shameful. And no, not exactly glamorous but neither is semen or any other bodily function, am I right? (I am.) This is still hotly debated, some sources say it is not urine. The scope of the study and the evidence say otherwise but if it makes you feel more comfortable then tell yourself it's fucking liquid magic, you know?

The squirting you see in porn is not real life (shocking). Those women put water into their vaginas and then push it out when the director gives his cue. Which you could totally try at home if you are into it. Why not, right? 

What's the difference?

Squirting, orgasm, female ejaculation...aren't they the same thing? Nope. While squirting is the bigger gush of liquid that shoots out from the urethra, female ejaculation is a much smaller concentration of liquid that occurs in the vagina. Female ejaculate is  stringier than urine — almost the consistency of saliva. These two things CAN occur at the same time, but typically when we think of "squirting" we are not thinking of female ejaculation. 

Word on the street (aka the internet) is that you can learn to squirt. Hitting the G-Spot is mission critical if you want to squirt. It can start with massaging but it needs to be pretty vigorous motion to trigger the squirting. It will feel like you have to pee, that same sense of urgency. DO NOT STOP FUCKING TO GO PEE. You probably don't have to actually pee, you are just confusing the fuck out of your body by distracting from the fact that you were about to orgasm. Just let go, bb.

On that same note, lemme talk for just a second about letting go. Find a partner that makes you feel safe, supported and loved. You can let go of that control. You can lean into pleasure. You fucking deserve to feel amazing. Okay? Believe it, because it's true.

Don't be embarrassed

Whether you can or you can't, it's nothing to be ashamed or embarrassed of! If it hasn't or isn't happening for you, it is not your fault. It might be that physiologically not ALL women have the potential for squirting. So if this is something you wish you could do, but just can't, don't be hard on yourself. Our basic anatomies are all pretty similar but when it comes to stuff like this, different strokes for different folks. And if it does happen for you, hell yea! 

Let's Get Naked - End Censorship of the Female Body

The larger scope of the issue stems with the long held taboos of women’s bodies and biological capabilities   Photography by Megan Leigh

The larger scope of the issue stems with the long held taboos of women’s bodies and biological capabilities Photography by Megan Leigh

I posted the artwork in the image below on my Instagram page, and I got such a great response both in the comments and via direct message. I wanted to expand on this topic and shed more light and education onto female censorship, the importance of having a relationship with your natural form and how this can facilitate love for yourself in ways you might not have considered previously. 

I will start with my own epiphany about nudity and how our society and culture shapes the ways we think about the naked human form. 

While in Iceland, I visited an established natural hot spring where you are required to get naked in the communal showers before entering the water. I was gripped with such a deep panic, what I really about to strip naked in front of strangers? I noticed another woman strip down with ease and without worry, like it was the most natural thing in the world. It was in that exact moment that the breath was metaphorically knocked out of me. . . I realized that it was the most natural thing in the world. You can read the full story here

Artwork by Melodie Perrault

Artwork by Melodie Perrault

As women, were we born knowing that we would merely be seen as an object? An accessory? Something to collect? In our culture, the over-sexualization and censorship of the female body is incredibly dangerous. Based on a 2010 report by the American Psychological Association (APA) on the sexualization of girls in the media, exposure to media among youth creates the potential for massive exposure to portrayals that sexualize women and girls and teach girls that women are objects. In a study conducted in 2008, researchers at Wesleyan University found that on average, across 58 different magazines, 51.8 percent of advertisements that featured women portrayed them as sex objects.  When women appeared in advertisements in men’s magazines, they were objectified 76 percent of the time.

Censorship of the Female Body

When you hide something, you build up a natural curiosity, right? It is why we surprise our loved ones with gifts, it is why we feel anxiety on the day we know we are getting our test scores back. In this same way, the very act of concealing something from public view makes it seem like it’s wrong. You build up curiosity; you are effectively creating hype and hysteria even if what you are hiding doesn’t warrant it. Such is the case when it comes to censoring women’s body parts, menstrual cycles and biological capabilities.

The issue lies within the fact that social media platforms are censoring based on gender, and therefore reinforcing dangerous cultural narratives. Social media's response is a reflection of the way society as a whole views these issues. When a photo is removed for a woman breastfeeding, it is being reinforced that this is something to hide, that it is unnatural. When a photo is removed of a topless woman, it is being communicated that female breasts are meant to be viewed for pleasure and entertainment only. When photos of pubic hair sticking out of bikini bottoms are taken down, we are being told that body hair is shameful and dirty. They are advocating that as women we are meant to be shaven, covered and hidden. 

"I'm so fuckin' sick and tired of the Photoshop" - Kendrick Lamar, and me

I know that media perpetuates the image that we are to be polished, perfect, ageless, hairless, shiny, fit, beautiful objects. You are allowed to be saggy, hairy, menstruating, squishy, unwashed and naked and none of that makes you less beautiful. None of that makes you less feminine. None of that makes you less human. None of that makes you less than whole. 

Poem by Rupi Kaur

Poem by Rupi Kaur

I do agree that modesty empowers some. It empowers me in certain situations, like when I wear a business suit or even a maxi dress. I am not here to tell you that one or the other should make you feel a certain way. We are all at different points in very different journeys. I honor and respect your journey. Consider this, though, our minds are programmed to assume that when I say nudity or modesty that I mean something sexual. Sometimes that is true, and I will get to that. But mostly, I just want you to feel empowered and comfortable in your most natural state of being, naked, vulnerable, open, perfect. Ask yourself how you feel about nudity and modesty and then dive deeper: why do you feel that way, is that how you really feel or what someone told you? There is no right or wrong, just leaning in, listening, learning. 

My body is my home

Nudity is our most natural state. A body is just skin, just a body. I see my body as my home, my protector. What happened to me in that Icelandic locker room can happen for you, too. We can decide to shed the layers of our clothing but what you might find is that this enables you to shed metaphorical layers as well. What has it done to us, mentally, growing up being told that our bodies are merely for viewing, for pleasure - pornographic? We need to take back our right to love our bodies for exactly what they are - a body.

“To know someone deeply  is to know a universe  contained in skin.”  ―  Victoria Erickson

“To know someone deeply
is to know a universe
contained in skin.” 
― Victoria Erickson

Nudity Can Be Sexy

Sometimes, though, nudity is about feeling sexy and bringing back your power in that way. If you want to sexualize your body then that is YOUR choice, not one that should be made for you. In fact, I would encourage spending more time naked. I explain this in my eBook in greater detail but essentially I found that the more time I spent at home naked and sleeping naked, the greater my connection to my sexuality became. I just genuinely felt sexier spending more time being naked. You just can't expect to accept the gaze or the touch of someone else on your body, if you aren't comfortable with it yourself. 

I want to challenge you! Choose something that is a part of your typical routine, and then do it naked. This can be a yoga practice, stretching, cooking a meal, brushing your teeth, sleeping - whatever you would not typically do naked, choose that and try it out for a week. See how you feel, check in with yourself emotionally, write about it. You might just find that you have been able to connect with yourself (and with a partner) on a deeper and more meaningful level. 

Sunday Sex Playlist

Megan Leigh Photography

Megan Leigh Photography

If there was ever a day for vegan donuts and morning sex, it's Sunday. In my opinion, amazing sex can always feel even more amazing when you're met with a dope playlist to fuck to. Starting slow and staying in bed all day having sex? Chill but sexy, those kinda vibes coming through for this playlist. I put this together for my own pleasure, so it has a lot of my own tastes in music, and some were added thanks to your recommendations via Instagram

Enjoy!


Vegan Donuts & Morning Sex eBook
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5 simple and easy vegan breakfast recipes, 10 tips and tools to empower you to feel like your sexiest self & a few surprises. . .

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Stop Faking It: Gender Orgasm Inequity

Photo by  Most Exalted

Photo by Most Exalted

This is a post inspired by my years of "faking it" in the hopes that women everywhere will start asking for what they want, feel confident in communicating their needs and know that they are innately deserving of pleasure, in and out of the bedroom. 

I can't even tell you how many years it was after becoming sexually active that I had my first orgasm. Honestly? I thought I wasn't capable. I thought there was something broken in my body that just meant I would never have a real orgasm. I remember hearing multiple times that "it was just harder for girls". I was so accustomed to faking it and I felt guilty if I didn't at least pretend. Since I was an adolescent I have spent a great deal of time researching and educating myself on greater cultural implications of what this means as well as female anatomy and what feels good for me. In this post, I will be unpacking what "orgasm guilt" is, the gender orgasm disparity that still exists today.

THE STATS

In 2009, the National Survey of Sexual Health and Behavior (NSSHB) asked 1,931 U.S. adults ages 18 to 59 about their most recent sexual experience. The findings show that men are more likely to orgasm than women — 91 percent of men said they climaxed during their last sexual encounter, compared with 64 percent of women. Interestingly, women report a much higher rate of climax when masturbating alone. 

Eighty-five percent of men said their partners in that recent sexual encounter had reached climax, far higher than the percentage of women who said they orgasmed. The statistics vary between heterosexual and homosexual couples as a 2014 study in the Journal of Sexual Medicine reported that lesbians had around a 75% orgasm rate. That means, for us hetero ladies, that we are FAKING IT. If we cannot be honest with our partner, then we probably should not be opening ourselves up to that person. If we want to have amazing, fulfilling, mind-blowing sex then we have to be better communicators; more on that topic later. 

HOW DID WE GET HERE?

As a teenager, my secret guilty pleasure was buying copies of Cosmopolitan magazine and reading them at the pool or in my room at night. Page after page after page filled with tips, tricks and article based around pleasing your man. Overwhelmingly, there was never a discussion around self-pleasure or tips on how to be a better communicator in bed. 

I hate to continuously blame the media for the taboos and disparity surrounding sex, but, here are again. The media has always portrayed male pleasure as the definitive point for having sex. Society has given males an entitlement to orgasm. Heterosexual intercourse has been explained and displayed to us as done, finished, over, when the male reaches climax. If the female has an orgasm? Just a cool bonus. Society keeps instilling in us that it is only males that want sex, therefore, because they "care about it more" it means that somehow their pleasure means more than ours. Without proper access to sex and pleasure education, many women accept this narrative as told by the media and society. 

HOW DO WE FIX THE GENDER ORGASM GAP?

I can't speak from experience when it comes to sexual education in schools. I attended a private Christian school for both primary and secondary schooling. Do you know what our sexual education consisted of? It didn't. We were told that it was sinful to have sex before marriage, so we just better not do it. The end. ARE YOU KIDDING ME!? I digress. We still need better and more well-informed knowledge for our public school sex-ed programs. Young women need to be taught that their pleasure is just as important as their partner. Young women need to be taught about the clitoris and how men and women do not both have equal anatomical access to orgasm via penetrative sex. Young women need to know that self-pleasure is important, necessary and a safe way for her to explore her body. 

We have to start teaching and holding clitoral stimulation and penetration as equal. Sex does not have to end after your partner has climaxed. Maybe you don’t consider achieving an orgasm an important part of sex, and I would like for you to look inward and ask yourself why. Why do you not consider your pleasure equal to that of your partner? Could it be that you feel unworthy of unadulterated pleasure? Sit with the feelings and thoughts that arise. Secondly, I ask you to place the same value on your comfort and pleasure as you do your partner’s even if you deem that orgasm is not an important part of sex for you. 

Communication is most likely the highest contributing factor in the orgasm gap. Even in the 21st century, the female orgasm is treated with indifference and viewed as taboo. Read this post for 6 tips on how to be a well-fucked woman, including how to become a better communicator in, and out of, the bedroom. 

blog photo 3.jpeg

Obviously, the deeper cultural implications of the orgasm gap are vastly complex. This is not something that we can heal overnight. The messages that you have been fed around your sexuality, anatomy and access to pleasure is toxic and untrue. That is not on you, that is not on your body. You deserve equal access to all of the greatest things in life, orgasms not excluded. 

Have questions about my thoughts and opinions on a topic brought up here? Comment on this post, email or find me on Instagram 

Let's Smash the Period Sex Stigma

Photography by the talented  Most Exalted

Photography by the talented Most Exalted

I'm going to let you in on a little secret. Sex is one of the greatest pleasures life has to offer. Second only to pizza. And guess what? Period sex is like pizza: If you want it, you deserve it. I'm real tired of old and outdated taboos lingering around, dictating what we should or should not be doing, so let's smash the period taboo once and for all, shall we? 

In an average woman's lifetime, she will menstruate approximately 450 times, for a total of 2,280 days. Contrary to the taboo that has remained in place for centuries, that's 6 years of great sex you could be enjoying. Let's keep normalizing natural female processes, but maybe we can take it a step further and even celebrate them.

Before I dive in: you obviously need to feel comfortable with your partner about opening up the conversation and possibility of trying period sex. The same rules apply to period sex as they do for any sex. Not into it? Don't do it. Don't pressure your partner and don't feel pressured by your partner. Okay? Okay.

FACTS 

  • You can still get pregnant when you’re on your period. What a bummer, I know. Having sex toward the beginning of your period gives you a much lesser chance of getting pregnant, though. If you have a partner you feel comfortable having unprotected sex with, the beginning of your period is a nice time to have sex sans condoms. But be aware, sperm can live in the uterus for up to 5 days, and if you have sex near the end of your cycle, it's possible that the sperm will be present when you ovulate and pregnancy can occur.
  • If you are imagining a bloody disaster post period sex, stop. You will probably be happy to realize it doesn't look like a murder scene when it's over. If you have sex during the end of your period, you might even find that there's no mess at all. And, really, isn't all sex a little messy and gross? 
  • If you aren't using birth control, in order to prevent pregnancy, you should use condom.
  • You can still contract STIs when having period sex, so be sure use whatever protection works for you.
  • There are a lot of religious, cultural and spiritual practices that discourage sex during menstruation. These practices are rooted in spiritual beliefs but not biological. There is nothing physically preventing or hindering you from having great sex on your period.
Art by Lyla Freechild

Art by Lyla Freechild

ALL THE REASONS YOU SHOULD BE HAVING PERIOD SEX

  • Menstrual blood = your body's natural lube. Lube makes sex better. No contest. And this particular lube happens to be free and all-natural. 
  • Orgasms cure cramps (and headaches). I personally don't want to have sex when I am experiences a lot of cramping pain during my period. With light cramps, though, I find that they tend to be alleviated by orgasm. This also works for headaches. Try it.
  • Shorter period. Can it be true? You might find that your flow increases after having sex. However, this also means that your period won't last as long. The same amount of blood will be present, but instead of taking longer to make its way down, the sex actually stretches the muscles and allows it to happen more quickly than it would have otherwise.
  • More Pleasure. Not only does allowing yourself to have sex during a week that you would have otherwise avoided it facilitate more pleasure, you may also find that your orgasms are stronger. This has to do with the natural lube we talked about, and also that you may be more sensitive to touch and to feeling during your period.

BEST POSITIONS FOR PERIOD SEX

  • Shower sex. I personally feel like I am always disappointed in shower sex. It is great for period sex especially, any and all mess is cleaned up right away. This is great if your partner is a clean freak but also still wants to get freaky. 
  • Laying on your side/Spooning. I find this to be great if I am having a self-conscious day about my period bloat or am feeling especially lazy but also am horny.
  • Missionary. Ole faithful, if you will. This position is great if you are worried about a mess, having your hips tilted upwards definitely helps, and don't forget that towel if you are especially worried.
  • Solo dolo. If you don't have a partner that you feel comfortable enough with to share period sex, or maybe your partner just isn't into it, self-pleasure is always a great option. You don't even have to remove your menstrual cup (or tampon) to experience clit stimulation and orgasm. Woo!
  • Anal. Oh boy, right? We can talk more in-depth about anal sex in an upcoming post...but for now, know that it is the perfect option if you aren't into period sex but still want to be having sex during your period. Bodies are cool.
I use the  Lunette Cup

I use the Lunette Cup

Just a note while we are talking about periods. If you haven't tried a menstrual cup yet, I would highly suggest it. The longer I continue to use mine, the more I love it. There is a learning curve, but once you get the hang of it, it totally changes the game. Not only is it safer for your body (i.e. no chemicals, toxins etc.) but it is also better for the environment and your wallet! Check out my favorite cup, and my blog on FAQs about menstrual cups.

Really though, the key to having great sex while on your period is to feel comfortable. Remember there's nothing to be embarrassed about! The Divine Feminine is in you. You are magic. Sex and menstruation are two totally normal and healthy things — so why not combine the two?

My Journey To Sobriety & How I Abused Alcohol As A Path To Intimacy

Swapping Kombucha and vulnerability for beer and shallow living. . .

Swapping Kombucha and vulnerability for beer and shallow living. . .

One mixed drink turned into five and one shot became six. One beer progressed to four more and some liquor, too because why not. . . One glass of wine turned into an empty bottle.

Before I get into it, I want to point out this post covers my personal experience with alcohol. I am not a medical professional. If you or someone you know is struggling with alcoholism or drugs, professional help matters. The Substance Abuse Mental Health Services Association has a 24/7 hotline to speak with a medical professional at any time of day, free of charge. Go to https://www.samhsa.gov/find-help/national-helpline. Don't wait until it's too late.

How I Confused Alcohol for Intimacy

There's nothing inherently wrong with partying or enjoying oneself. But when you struggle with addiction and are trying to fill an emotional void with it, partying can turn from a fun social outlet to a downward spiral, and this is my story.

partying in college

I couldn’t find the control to stop. I couldn’t find the ability to enjoy in moderation.

I started using alcohol at 15 years of age. At 17, I had my heart broken and quickly looked to alcohol to fill the void in my chest. I used alcohol to numb the pain of unworthiness. I abused alcohol to have fun, to feel free, to feel less of every bad thing. There was something super addicting about going out to me. I would often black out.  Sometimes, though, it was just pure fun. Dancing in a nightclub with all my friends was an excellent use of my time. And we did have fun and SO many laughs. In hindsight, I realize that this behavior was just a continued numbing mechanism. The sad and uncomfortable feelings inside me were feelings I was just not ready nor willing to face. Going out was much more fun than facing them. I loved the feeling of buying a new outfit, getting ready with some music, pre-gaming with friends and then showing up at a bar or club and dancing until dawn. It went on this way for years. Avoiding. Drinking. Being the party girl. Hooking up with strangers. Blacking out. Acting out in violence against people that loved me.

Relapse is a part of recovery

As I got older, I stopped going out as much. I ended friendships with people that only wanted to party. I entered long term relationships. More than a few times, though, I relapsed. I started to binge drink, blacking out and using alcohol as emotional lubricant. I would tell myself I would only have a few drinks, only to wake up the next morning wondering what happened. 

I know now that excess is who I am. I want more magic. I want more pleasure. I want more connection. I want more love. I want more intimacy. I want more sunsets. And more sunrises. I want more moments that take my breath away. I have come to love this part of myself, I find it to be a part of my magic.

That also means, though, that I don’t always have the ability to make myself stop. This became a very real issue when it came to alcohol. Not only did I find myself looking face to face with a binge-drinking problem, I also began to realize that I was using alcohol as a direct pathway to physical and emotional intimacy. As an excuse. As a way to be more, better, as a way to BE. I quickly realized that almost all of my relationships were shallow and surface level. I realized that I trusted no one to love the real me. The sober me.

It was a requirement that I drink during dates, that I drink before, after and sometimes during casual hook ups. It was necessary for me to drink away the guilt of lying and cheating on men that I was in a committed relationship with. I needed the alcohol so I would forget that I didn’t really want to be sleeping with nameless men that weren’t giving me any pleasure. It was vital that I drink to have deeply vulnerable conversations with both the people that loved me and those that did not.

I used alcohol as a way to feel confident in who I was. To feel confident not only about my body, but in my abilities and capabilities. I used alcohol to seem fun, wild, free. I used alcohol to be funnier and happier and a good time. It took my years to realize I was selling myself short. YEARS of believing that I needed the alcohol to be someone.

All along, I was fiercely witty, loving, fun, wild and free. All along, I was beautiful, desirable, enticing. All along, my purpose was to make people feel less broken. All along, I was capable of deeply meaningful connection. I am wired for vulnerability. Bravery. Empathy. Compassion. Grace. Love.

SOBER and loving life at a music festival

SOBER and loving life at a music festival

So what does sobriety look like for me?

My journey to a more sober life has been a unique one. I still don’t consider myself an “alcoholic” but as someone with a “problem with binge-drinking”. For a while, I was limiting my alcohol consumption to 3 drinks per week. Then I lowered that to 2. I went about 2 months with no alcohol at all. I just find myself having less and less of a desire to drink. I used the Dry January app to track the number of days that I had gone without. I don’t use it anymore, because it seems to be a habit that I am sticking with. It was a great visual tool, though, when I was forming this new habit.

Kombucha has definitely helped me so much. When I want to have something in my hand besides a water, kombucha has been the perfect alternative. A lot of restaurants and bars actually have started to provide a kombucha option on tap, and that growth and trend has been amazing.

Going Vegan

There might come a day when I stop drinking alcohol forever. But I don’t like to put those kinds of restrictions on myself any more. When I became vegan, I started going on a “inner-journey” and it was honestly sub-conscious for a long time. I was much more aware when I was abusing alcohol to feel good, instead I was feeling good just by being! This gave me the confidence to really show myself and know that I didn't need a drink in me to approach someone or feel relaxed. I just gradually became more and more health conscious. It’s no surprise that booze is a toxin. Alcohol severely dehydrates your body. It can cause inflammation and over stress your liver. It can affect blood sugar levels by effecting the functioning of your pancreas. It also effects your central nervous system, immune system, digestive system and your mood.

I will still drink, but it has been pretty rare. I am incredibly mindful of environment and company. If I am in a “party” atmosphere, I know that I cannot even have one drink, because one will become many. If I am surrounded by a group of people in a party mindset, I know that I cannot drink. I do still enjoy a glass of wine or a fun cocktail, I enjoy trying sips of Danny’s beer or ordering one of my own.

I have a lot more grace with myself through this journey than I ever did before. I am getting better at saying "no" when offered a drink. Each time I say no, I feel more connected to who I really am. Each time I have a deeply vulnerable conversation when I am completely sober, I feel more empowered. Each morning that I wake up clear headed, I feel alive.

Always learning. Always growing.

Do you drink? Have you been able to break the cycle from booze and partying to a healthier lifestyle? I'd love to hear from you in the comments section.

Boob Insecurities, Breast Exams, and My Thoughts on Bras

So, what happens if you don't wear a bra? Keep reading to find out.   Photography by Most Exalted

So, what happens if you don't wear a bra? Keep reading to find out. Photography by Most Exalted

Despite what the media tells us, boobs come in a variety of shapes, sizes, textures and colors. This shit has made us so insecure about our naked bodies; our boobs are no exception. I have written this post to clear up a lot of misconceptions about boobs in the hopes of helping you heal and overcome your own insecurities and questions surrounding breasts.

Artwork by Tina Maria Elena

Artwork by Tina Maria Elena

The power of marketing truly blows my mind. I remember looking through magazines, movies and TV and seeing these beautiful models and actresses. They seemed to have perfect, perky breasts. It really wasn’t a thought in my mind to be embarrassed about my boobs until I was through puberty and considering the idea of allowing other people to actually see my boobs. I thought my areolae were too big. My nipples too flat. I thought I was a freak because I had hair around my nipples, and would spend time every day making sure I plucked all the hair out. There was no open dialogue about the normality of vast differences in breasts. If you find yourself feeling a little embarrassed about your boobs, I just want you to know that you don’t have to be. And whatever it is, it is SO normal. Boobs are super cool and also super weird. They can be 2 different shapes, you can have hairy nipples, 3 nipples, you can have super sensitive nipples. Speaking of nipple sensitivity, I have like...none. It kind of sucks, maybe? But I don’t know any other way. It doesn’t feel good (or bad) when my nipples are played with, because honestly I can’t really feel it.

All boobs are great boobs.

Our culture has instilled in us that boobs are objects. They are often seen as toys rather than body parts. YES, it is okay (and normal!) if your boobs are saggy, sensitive, insensitive, uneven, scarred, large, small, hairy or anything in between. 

Your body is your home.

Your body is your home.

Nipple Hair, Though?

It is estimated that around 30% of the female population has nipple hair growth. The real stats are probably higher because if anyone was in the throes of their boob shame, they aren't going to admit to having nipple hair to anyone. It is totally normal, and rarely indicates that there is some abnormality. Nipple hair growth is one symptom of polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) but you would have other symptoms, not just this one. 

Thinking about getting rid of it? For years I plucked out every damn wiry strand. Now? I rarely fuss with it because it doesn't bother me. If it affects your confidence, though, removal is an option. Whatever you do, DO NOT use products like Nair or other chemical hair removers. These are super sensitive nipples we are talking about here! Plucking was my go to, and it always led to gnarly ingrown hairs. You could just snip them to keep them trim, or you could shave them. Some salons even offer a waxing options, but definitely do not try this at home with your regular wax. 

Do I Really Need To Do A Self Breast Exam?

Yes and no. In recent years, medical professionals have shifted away from the idea that self breast exams are necessary. This is because women are not taught properly how to do it but also because studies have indicated that a woman who does the breast exam is no less likely to die from breast cancer than the woman that does not do the exam. It is increasingly being encouraged that you become intimately familiar with your unique breast shape and type, the feeling of your breast tissue and all of the regular bumps and lumps that are uniquely yours. Your breasts go through cycles, similarly to all of your other bodily functions, and you need to have an awareness of your own natural rhythm and cycle. If you haven't become comfortable in your awareness of your boobs and what they feel like yet, it definitely is not too late. Feel and touch on them regularly; if you have a partner, encourage them to be your second opinion. Having two people with a general familiarity of what is "normal" for you will be more beneficial if you ever feel like you come across an irregularity down the road. If you notice a change, especially one that is painful or involves swelling, discharge or itchiness, seek a medical professional. Do not just assume it will go away by ignoring the problem. I know this is a scary subject, but it doesn't have to be with a little education and a lot of self-awareness. 

I love a bralette. Comfy with just enough support and coverage. Photo by  Andrea Miner

I love a bralette. Comfy with just enough support and coverage. Photo by Andrea Miner

Did You Burn All Your Bras?

I didn't, actually. Sometimes I wear a bra, and sometimes I don't. I view bras now as another fashion accessory and not something that is unquestionably necessary. Wearing a bra is a choice, just as wearing makeup or shaving is a choice.

It's really uncomfortable for me to workout without a sports bra, so I don't. Most of my sports bras now come via my Ellie Activewear subscription box. I have never been let down. Some of them are for light impact like yoga or weight lifting, others for higher impact like jumping and running. 

As I stated in my story of my younger self, I used to opt only for underwire bras with a lot of padding. Now, though, I definitely prefer little to no padding. I typically prefer comfort to aesthetics. Fortunately, I recently found True & Co. whose bras are both comfortable and cute. Some tops that I wear are very shear, so I often wear the X bra to wear underneath those tops for work. The fit is great, and they even have a little quiz to determine which bras are the best for your boob shape and size.

So, what happens if you don't wear a bra?

  • You will feel like a free bird. You will probably decide you much rather prefer the freeing feeling of going braless. You know that feeling at the end of the day when you take your bra off? Yea, you can basically feel like that all day, every day.
  • Your tops will fit differently. This can be positive or negative, depending on your mindset and the top. Some tops I prefer to wear a bralette with because it looks better and makes me feel more confident. Other tops just look better without a bra.
  • Your back might start to hurt. The support that a bra offers is especially important for women with larger boobs. Without that support that your back is used to, there may be discomfort or pain. Don't just ignore that and push through it or there could be some real damage. Maybe trying a different style of bra that isn't as constricting or without wire could give you a more comfortable feeling while still offering some support. 
  • You will get some stares. You might not, but you probably will. I am always really amazed at the number of stares that I get directed toward my chest when I don't have a bra on. It's kind of annoying but I just tell myself it is out of curiosity and not coming from a harmful place. I am hopeful that it will become more and more normative and therefore will elicit less and less stares. 

I hope this post helped you in some way. Maybe it strengthened your resolve in what you already knew. Maybe it made you feel not so alone in your insecurity around your breasts. Maybe you learned something new. You are beautiful. Your body is exquisite. You are the Universe. 

How to Have Better Sex: 6 Tips From Well-Fucked Women

"If you don't feel like you can take something special from that person, don't let them take something from you."  Jules Casto

"If you don't feel like you can take something special from that person, don't let them take something from you." Jules Casto

The following tips include some of my own experiences and opinions on how to be more open and accepting of pleasure. They also include tips from other women that reached out to me via Instagram. The answers I received were all very similar, which strengthened my own convictions about the following tips.

I define a "well-fucked woman" as a sexually empowered and pleased woman who is comfortable coming into their own power, in and out of the bedroom. 

  1. Self Pleasure. I know ya'll are probably sick to death of me talking about masturbation but it is the linchpin to your sexual pleasure. You can't expect anyone to know what feels good for you if YOU don't know. Masturbation is a safe way to explore your body and your pleasure centers. Educate yourself, friends. I talk more about this on my sexual health post, read it here
  2. Own Your Vulnerability. You can have just okay (sometimes even good) sex by remaining shielded. For truly amazing sex, though, you have got to stay open to surrendering. You have to find space to be able to truly receive. This means that you are comfortable with showing up in, and sharing, your vulnerability with your partner(s). This is why choosing the correct sexual partner(s) is important, not everyone is going to be able to hold space for your vulnerability and be open to giving and receiving back to you. When you have sex with someone, energy is transferred. If you don't feel like this person has energy that you want to consume into your body and consciousness, do not choose them as a partner. 
  3. Express What You Need. Be a better communicator with your partner. Express what you need not only to feel pleasure but also to feel safe. Being a better communicator comes from knowing your innate worth and value and getting clear on what you truly value and want. This requires a lot of inside work and self-growth. For me, I had to start accepting the fact that I deserved to feel good, I deserved equal access to pleasure. This also means for me, that I have to be better at setting and enforcing boundaries. An example of a necessary boundary for me in the bedroom is that I need my partner to stay with me after we have finished. If they just hurry and leave, I am left with feelings of being abandoned. This stems from my childhood trauma with abandonment, and I have been able to recognize that, work through it and set boundaries to avoid unnecessary pain. 
  4. Enjoy Sex. Well-fucked women genuinely enjoy sex. They own their sexuality. They have worked through any and all shame demons and have done work to lay them to rest. Sometimes, we come from a background where sex was encompassed in a world of shame, pain or secrecy. I myself attended a conservative, private, Christian-based primary and secondary school so I received zero sexual education in a formal setting. I had to really do some intense inside work to get clear on my own beliefs about sexuality, not those that were dictated to me by others. 
  5. Positive Affirmations. Give yourself permission to have amazing, mind-blowing sex. Give yourself permission to feel sexy, desired and loved. Positive affirmations are just positive sentences that you repeat to yourself because you want to bring something specific into existence. The theory is based in the Law of Attraction and manifestation. Our thoughts and words have energy. I am encouraging you to start applying the practice of positive affirmations to your sexuality. You can find specific examples of these and learn more in my ebook, coming in July. (I will update this post when it is live with a link for purchase!)
  6. Don't Compare. Yes, this is another one you hear me tout regularly, and yes, this even applies to your sexuality. You cannot compare your experiences or desires to those around you. When speaking with Jules about her own experiences, she reminded me of the shame that I used to feel about my sexuality because I was continually surrounded by women with different experiences than me. Whether they intended to shame me or not, they did, but I also allowed them to. It is okay to have friends with different opinions, moral grounding and upbringing than you. What is not okay is if they make you feel bad or different, or if you make them feel bad or different, about sexual choices and partners. Your wants and needs are uniquely yours. Own it, honey! 

None of this is "true". These tips are founded on my own experiences, opinion and my own personal truth. I reached out to other empowered women to get their truths as well. Know that what is true for me or for someone else might not be true for you. That's more than okay, too. Find your truth. Find your freedom. Find your pleasure. 

Morning Sex Playlist

Artwork by Tina Marie Elena

Artwork by Tina Marie Elena

The right soundtrack has the power to elevate your mood and to elevate sex from good to great. Music adds another layer of stimulation and allows another one of your senses to be involved in the experience.

I decided to start curating some sexy and fun playlists for you. I hope you enjoy this first one, perfect for those slow and sexy mornings. 

 

Books That Changed My Life

Below you will find a list of some of my favorite books of all time. . .Consider this your summer reading list of 2018

Below you will find a list of some of my favorite books of all time. . .Consider this your summer reading list of 2018

I love to read. I always have. Many of you may even know me because of a digital book club I began many moons ago. I have read a great deal of literature, but I wanted to share with you some that have impacted me the most. These include all genres, so take what you enjoy, take what you need.

  • The Power of Now – Eckhart Tolle
  • Harry Potter - JK Rowling
  • How Not To Die - Dr. Michael Gregor
  • The Five Love Languages - Gary Chapman
  • The Art of Communication – Thicht Naht Hanh
  • The China Study - T. Collin Campbell
  • Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking – Susan Cain
  • Braving the Wilderness - Brene Brown
  • I Thought It Was Just Me (But It Isn’t) – Brene Brown
  • Taking the Leap – Pema Chodron
  • Age of Anger - Pankaj Mishra
  • Milk and Honey – Rupi Kaur
  • The Untethered Soul - Michael A. Singer
  • You Are A Badass - Jen Sincero
  • Scar Tissue - Anthony Keidis 

I am deeply committed to my growth. It's all an inside job. I encourage you to invest in your growth, in your expansion. Invest in you.

Always learning, always growing. Always reading. 

Please share with me, here in the comments or via Instagram, the books that have been the most influential in your life.