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
4.99

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

Add To Cart

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
4.99

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

Add To Cart

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. 

Grocery Shopping with K8canrelate

”Let food be thy medicine, and medicine be thy food.”
— Hippocrates

I have been meal planning and prepping consistently for a few years now. I thought it was time to share my tips, routine and typical grocery list with you! Keep reading for more. . .

ROUTINE

My typical meal planning routine is to decide on a meal or two that I want for the upcoming week and Google a recipe. I will look through a few, decide on a couple and then write out a list of ingredients that I will need to get. I email the recipes to myself so I don't lose them in the meantime, because I cannot tell you how many times I find a recipe once and then lose it into the ether.

An average week for me is usually overnight oats for breakfast, some kind of grain + veggie bowl for lunch and a hearty salad for dinner. Lately, I have been doing berries for dessert but sometimes I make protein mug cake. I have all of my grocery needs in my Notepad on my iPhone, and erase the items as I place them in my buggy. (Fun cultural fact: a buggy is what West Virginians call a shopping cart)

I diversify my shopping options. I don't buy everything all at once, necessarily. And I don't do all my shopping at one store. Convenient? No. Cost effective? Yes. Aldi doesn't carry the specialty or bulk items that I need, but Kroger and Whole Foods do. 

TIPS

  • Biggest number one tip is to visit the grocery store on Sunday morning if it fits your schedule. There is nothing I detest more than trying to get my shopping done in a sea of humans. Sunday mornings are peaceful and typically very well-stocked.
  • BYOB, baby! Obviously, I recommend bringing your own bags and opting out of plastic. According to the Center for Biological Diversity, it takes 500 (or more) years for a plastic bag to degrade in a landfill because the bags don't break down completely.
  • Shop at Aldi and/or your local farmers market. Aldi is my bank account life saver and the farmers market often has cheap, organic and in-season items. The farmers market produce might not be "certified" organic, but it oftentimes is organic. Just ask, they will know! 
  • Try to shop for produce that is currently in season. This will keep the cost lower! I don't always follow this rule because sometimes ya girl just wants some fresh berries in the dead of winter. But most frozen fruit is a great alternate when you just don't want to pay for out-of-season prices. 
  • Buy in bulk when you can! This is one of my favorite ways to save money when it comes to grocery items. 
  • Get familiar with your shopping options. Make it a point to visit your local grocers and some that maybe aren't so local if you think they have better specials or items that are cheaper. For example, there is not a Whole Foods or Trader Joe's in all of West Virginia (I know, girl, I know) so when I travel out of state, I make sure to bring empty bags and a cooler so I can shop before returning home. 
 Feel free to save or print this grocery list for your own use!

Feel free to save or print this grocery list for your own use!

Be mindful of how much food your household needs. This may mean you will experience a learning curve where you buy too much or too little food. You definitely don't want food to go to waste, so I always prefer needing to make a small run before the weekend if we need a couple of items to last us until our regular trip on Sunday mornings. If you do find that you have too much food, I would suggest getting creative and throwing it into the Crockpot for a "cleaning out the fridge" meal. Honestly, these are sometimes the best tasting and most fun to make! 

Does your grocery list usually look similar to mine? What are some of your favorite tips to save money? 

Let's Talk About Sex(ual Health)

 Starting the dialogue about sexual health and wellness. . . Read more

Starting the dialogue about sexual health and wellness. . . Read more

I don’t see enough of a conversation on sexual health. So many health, wellness and fitness bloggers and rarely, if ever, do I see a post or a nod to sex and/or sexual health. It is a sensitive and a private topic, and I understand that not everyone is comfortable or willing to start the dialogue. Historically, women were not permitted to have good sex, and we certainly were not supposed to talk about it. I used to feel a lot of shame about my sexual activity, and while I may find myself blushing or wondering if i am oversharing, I know this is one of the most important things we could ever talk about.

LET'S TALK ABOUT SEX

Do I have it?

I do. Sometimes I wonder if I'm not having enough sex, or if I'm having too much. I recall all of those magazines that I used to read and how they spelled out how to "keep your man happy" through various means of pleasure. UGH. Remember, there is a very broad range of "normal", so explore what your natural preferences are and find your own "normal". 

HORMONES

Hormones dictate a lot about us. They especially dictate your menstrual cycle, your libido and how they both function. If you think you might have hormonal imbalances, or if you are living with poly-cystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), I have heard good things about Womancode, a book by Alisa Vitti. I have been considering reading this book because I am increasingly interested in healing my body through nutrition, and I do wonder if I suffer from a hormone imbalance. 

 All about those menstrual cups. It took me a while to try it, but I am SO GLAD I did. Featuring the Lunette Cup. 

All about those menstrual cups. It took me a while to try it, but I am SO GLAD I did. Featuring the Lunette Cup. 

SPEAKING OF MENSTRUAL CYCLES

I really love the free “P Tracker Life” app – this lets me keep track of when my period started and stops as well as allowing me to see a guesstimate of when I am fertile, and to place a marker on days that I am intimate. This feature is typically most useful for women that are trying to get pregnant, which I am not, but I still like to be able to look and see what the patterns are. I really encourage you to get familiar with your body as much as possible. Which means ditching pads and tampons and trying out a menstrual cup. More on my experience and thoughts about cups here

 Via  Milk and Honey

Via Milk and Honey

A quick word on infections:

I struggled with recurring UTI's and yeast infections, to the point where I would rather opt out of sex in order to avoid them. I got to a point where I knew antibiotics were not the answer, and I was tired of doctors offering that as the only fix. Thankfully, I read about D-Mannose. D-Mannose is actually a type of sugar derived naturally from plants. You can find supplements to take orally. These have been an actual life-saver for me. I am very happy to report that I have not had a single UTI since incorporating D-Mannose, and I do not even have to take it every day. In fact, I don't even bother at all when I am on my period. Find what works for you, but if you struggle with UTI's - I recommend this natural supplement over antibiotics, any day. 

WHAT ABOUT BIRTH CONTROL? 

I will be the first person to tell you to avoid synthetic birth control. I encourage you to do the research on your own, as there are multitudes of websites/doctors/medical sources that will say opposing things. I am not a medical professional. You must make this decision for yourself. You and only you should decide what you put into your body. Only you should decide if you wish to supplement with synthetic hormones and pills. I personally choose to take no contraceptive pills or to use synthetic hormone therapy of any kind. I did, however. From age 16-23, I was on the pill and dealt with a plethora of health/emotional uproars because of it. My doctor made it seem like it was the only choice. It was what everyone else seemed to do, so I did the same. My body is still stabilizing after the years of ups and downs that I put it through from birth control. I highly suggest you reconsider your birth control options. There is nothing more rewarding than identifying with a greater self awareness of your body! It makes me feel powerful and beautiful and strong. 

SO WHAT DO I USE FOR BIRTH CONTROL?

I currently use the copper IUD, also known as Paragard. It is a non-hormonal IUD which will remain effective for 10-12 years. I actually blogged about my experience, and you can read more on that here. My period is as regular as a period could ever be, and I am so grateful. However, I did stop having a period for almost a full year after taking the hormonal pill coupled with poor nutrition and over-exercising. 

WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS ON HAIR DOWN THERE?

REMOVING ALL THE HAIR
OFF YOUR BODY IS OKAY
IF THATS WHAT YOU WANT TO DO
JUST AS MUCH AS KEEPING ALL OF THE HAIR
ON YOUR BODY IS OKAY
IF THATS WHAT YOU WANT TO DO.
- YOU BELONG TO YOURSELF. 
— Rupi Kaur

THOUGHTS ABOUT MASTURBATION?

Again, you belong to yourself. Do what you want. Everyone's sexuality develops in different ways and each of us has our own preferences. Some of us are very sexually active and others do not feel the need to have sex. Some of us don't feel sexual at all, and prefer to have non-sexual relationships. If you feel like pleasuring yourself, my vote is always "yas!". If you want to purchase one (or more) vibrators or dildos, do it! If you want specific recommendations from me in this department, please feel free to message me on Instagram

LEARNING WHAT TURNS YOU ON

Part of familiarizing yourself with your natural preferences is understanding and exploring your sexuality. We can do this in many ways. A wonderful tool that I came across recently was the Erotic Blueprint quiz. You can take the quiz here. Essentially, there are five blueprints: energetic, sensual, sexual, kinky, and shapeshifter. I scored nearly the same for both shapeshifter (turned on by and can play in all of the blueprints) and kinky (people who are turned on by taboo, this includes anything that feels taboo to the specific person). This quiz was helpful to me because although I somewhat knew that about myself, I wouldn't have understood it on the level that the quiz results spell out. Perhaps you feel conflicted that you are sexually aroused by being dominated in bed, and wonder what that means for you in the age of #MeToo. This piece in The New York Times addresses that in detail.

I really hope this helps someone. I have been interested in sex and sexual health since I used to stay up past by bedtime and watch Talk Sex with Sue Johanson late at night. I would love to keep this conversation going, please comment below to let me know that you read this! And as always, feel free to reach out via Instagram or email. 

CBD: What Is It and Does It Really Work?

 Pin this photo to read the post later! 

Pin this photo to read the post later! 

Suddenly, cannabidiol (CBD) oil seems to be everywhere. People are dropping it into their morning coffee, swallowing capsules, and loading it into their vape pens. There are claims that it relieves anxiety and depression and masks chronic pain. Many of you know that I have been obsessed with testing out various CBD products over the last few months!

So, what is it and does it really work? Over the past few months I have experimented with various forms of CBD oil to monitor how and if they helped alleviate the symptoms of my anxiety. 

Disclaimers: (1) I am not a medical professional, nor a CBD expert. The goal of this post is to share information about CBD and my personal experience with it. I did my best research and fact-checking for accuracy.  (2) I was not monetarily compensated for these brands nor do I receive affiliate dollars if you buy them. They are honest opinions and reviews.

INTRO TO CBD

What is CBD? CBD is one of many compounds, known as cannabinoids, that are found in the cannabis plant. 

So, is CBD marijuana? 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 (sorry).

Is it legal? That depends. The legality of CBD depends on which state (or country) you reside in. There are 2 kinds of CBD. Hemp CBD products are available widely online (and what is legal here in West Virginia) whereas cannabis derived CBD products are only available in some states at medical dispensaries. I have only tried hemp derived CBD. 

Does it create a dependency? Research shows that CBD does not cause dependence. It can be a great alternative for those trying to stay away from opioids or pharmaceuticals in general. 

What dosage is right for me? Start by taking small doses and observe what happens. Listen to your body. Make small adjustments. 

THE BENEFITS

Why are people using it? 

  • CBD has been proven to have natural pain relief and anti-inflammatory properties. This is great for those suffering from chronic pain from diseases like fibromyalgia or even pain associated with cancer. 
  • CBD has been proven to have anti-seizure properties. 
  • It can also be used to topically treat skin conditions. More and more CBD is being recommended for those with acne or eczema! It can be worked into your regular skincare routine, regardless. 
  • Struggling with nausea or vomiting? CBD can be used to treat it. 
  • And the big one: anxiety. The whole reason I sought out CBD products was to help treat my anxiety symptoms. CBD has been shown to reduce levels of stress and anxiety even in individuals that suffer from PTSD or OCD. 

HOW TO USE IT?

CBD comes in a variety of forms; the selection of products can be overwhelming! Some more expensive than others. There is everything from oil, tincture, sublingual spray, topical creams, infused with essential oils and even edibles. You will want to determine what symptoms you are hoping to alleviate to determine which method of consumption is best for you. 

If you are wanting to use CBD oil for its anti-inflammatory properties on your muscles or joints, a gel or cream would probably be best. Similarly, if you want to use it to treat or prevent acne, a topical treatment would be ideal. For very low doses, some companies sell CBD infused with essential oils in a roller form. 

For all other symptom treatment, you will want to choose something that has the dosage you are looking for that is easy for you to consume. You can place drops of oil under your tongue (and let it soak in), you can add it to foods or drinks that you consume like coffee or tea. CBD capsules are also an option, these are typically a higher dosage, but not always. You can also purchase a spray that you can aim at the back of your mouth. 

 Blue Ridge Hemp CBD gel - great for muscles and joints!

Blue Ridge Hemp CBD gel - great for muscles and joints!

MY PERSONAL EXPERIENCE  

I tried many variants of CBD products. I tried products from Plus CBD, Blue Ridge Hemp and Appalachian Cannabis Company. In fact, I tried most of the product types that I listed above. I wanted to use CBD to see if helped alleviate some of the symptoms of my anxiety. That being said, I do find that taking CBD orally does help. However, it does not erase my anxiety. Unfortunately, anxiety doesn't 'go away' but taking CBD regularly alleviates the tight feelings in my chest, as well as making me feel an overall more calm feeling. 

As for my preference in which product to use, I honestly preferred the softgel capsules. It was easy, tasteless and provided the right dosage for me. I did not take one of these daily, only about every 2 to 3 days. I also enjoyed this tincture of peppermint CBD added into my morning coffee. This has been a great alternative to sweeteners or creamer, so if you drink something that you would like adding peppermint to, try a tincture. 

I also saw a benefit from CBD in my sore muscles. I used this ointment after lifting heavy at the gym, and noticed that my muscles were not as sore the next day than on days where I did not use the ointment. If you have joint or muscle pain, I would highly recommend adding in a topical CBD product to your routine. 

I have yet to try CBD bath salts or sunscreen, but I am very interested in these two products and will update this post as I try more things! Some still see CBD as controversial, and that is okay. I encourage you to open your mind and try it out, especially if you suffer from an ailment that it has been proven to help with. 

Plants>pharmaceuticals

A Sustainable Style Staple - the JORD watch

 Is it possible to be both sustainable and stylish? Find out 

Is it possible to be both sustainable and stylish? Find out 

Have you been trying to make changes to a more sustainable lifestyle? Would you consider yourself trendy and enjoy keeping up with fashion and style guides? I always find myself stuck in this in-between of wanting what is best for the environment but wanting to dress on trend and in ways that make me feel cute (and, sometimes, secondhand wear just doesn't cut it). Enter the watch. 

I have been planning to get Danny (my fiance, for those of you that don't know us yet!) a watch as a gift for the morning of our wedding but when I was approached by Jord Watches, I couldn't say no. Their beautiful minimalist style of wooden watches matches our aesthetic perfectly. They even offer engraving services which made obviously makes gifts like these personal and perfect. 

HOW IS THIS SUSTAINABLE?

The reason that a watch can be seen as a sustainable style staple is because when you purchase quality pieces like a Jord Watch, you typically are set for life. You may have to replace the battery at some point, but usually well-made watches like this are a one-time investment. 

 The Jord Conway

The Jord Conway

THE WATCH 

After browsing through the women's styles, I chose instead to pick one out for Danny. I have a thing for large face watches anyway, so men's styles are always more appealing to me. Don't let an arbitrary style categorization like "men's" or "women's" stop you from ordering what appeals to you! I ended up choosing the Conway style. The walnut with the black is very classic yet rustic looking but they have funkier options as well. The watch can easily be dressed up or down, easily giving off an outdoorsy vibe. (Can a watch give a vibe?) Because it is wood, its warmer on the skin and also more forgiving to movement. These watches would be a good option for someone that travels often or hikes a lot! We both agree that the detail work of the wood face and band are exquisite. (Not that we are watch connoisseurs anything) Danny also needed to remove one link which he was able to easily do himself by watching a video. 

ENTER TO WIN

As you know, I never agree to collaborate with a brand if it doesn't also involve something for my readers. Jord has agreed to open a giveaway for a $100 gift card. This will be open until my birthday (April 29). You can enter here! And I will keep a link to the giveaway in my Instagram bio as well. 

 Even the packaging is the perfect minimalist chic aesthetic that I love!

Even the packaging is the perfect minimalist chic aesthetic that I love!

Honestly with small changes like deciding against cheap accessories and clothing items and opting for well-made and long-lasting pieces, we can cut down on material waste significantly. Sometimes, the effects of consumer culture and climate change can seem overwhelming but together, we can make a difference

 

My Favorite Vegan Food Swaps

 Here you will find all my favorite vegan food swaps!

Here you will find all my favorite vegan food swaps!

Who this is good for: the veggie-curious, the newly vegan, the vegan vegans. Basically, this is a great post for all.

Below I share with you some of my favorite vegan food swaps! These are not all “plant-based” but they are all vegan. There are still some that are processed and therefore not the healthiest option available but are definitely a delicious treat (or staple). Honestly, there is a swap for everything these days, so try the cruelty free option and see what you think. You may be very pleasantly surprised!

 Fish tacos, Korean noodle salad and loaded tater tots from Curia Off the Drag in Gainesville, Florida. Look for all-vegan restaurants in your area for the best vegan food swaps!

Fish tacos, Korean noodle salad and loaded tater tots from Curia Off the Drag in Gainesville, Florida. Look for all-vegan restaurants in your area for the best vegan food swaps!

D A I R Y 

Vegan Milk Brands:

I really am not picky about the brand. Typically, I just go for whatever is on sale that week. I always get unsweetened vanilla almond or cashew milk unless I will need it for baking and then I just get unsweetened original.

Vegan Cheese Brands :

Sliced cheese - My favorite sliced cheese in Follow Your Heart but the Chao Slices are really good, too! Violife competes for my favorite, but those are more difficult to find. 

Shredded cheese - Daiya is the more widely available cheese to get on your pizzas at places like Mellow Mushroom but is not my favorite. If I can, I prefer Trader Joe's brand or So Delicious. 

Cream cheese - Kite Hill is my favorite but I usually opt for Tofutti because its easier for me to get locally. 

OTHER DAIRY

Ice cream - Okay, ice cream is my favorite. When I first went vegan, the only real options were So Delicious. They have an amazing cashew icecream line that is personally my favorite. The coconut based icecreams are good, too but in my opinion, the cashew ones are richer and creamier. However, now that Halo Top has a dairy free line, that is my daily go to. 

Butter - Earth Balance is the way to go when it comes to margarine. Whether you want it for toast or for baking, this comes through. I opt for the soy free version. 

Yogurt - I have not been able to find a good substitute for Greek yogurt. I used to eat Skyr every single day and it was one of my favorite foods. I didn't think I could live without it, but here I am thriving. There are vegan yogurt options with both coconut milk and soy milk. There are also a lot of yogurt options that are not available in my area, so I haven't tried all the options. There is quite the following and fanfare behind Coconut Cult and I am dying to try it!

 Some of my favorite Follow Your Heart products!

Some of my favorite Follow Your Heart products!

M E A T

VEGAN MEAT BRANDS:

Burgers - Hands down the most "burger-like" veggie burger is the Beyond Burger. It is now available at Target, Whole Foods, specialty stores and even in restaurants like TGI Fridays. 

Sandwich meat - This is a toss up. Try all of the options. If you love a good sandwich, check out this YouTube channel, Chris makes some awesome sandwiches. 

Chicken - Beyond Meat does it again. Their chicken strips are my favorite to put in salad and wraps. Seitan is another chickeny option that, in my opinion, is best in stir fries or soups. 

 Vegan bacon, egg and cheese with avocado on sourdough!

Vegan bacon, egg and cheese with avocado on sourdough!

E G G S

Eggs – Follow Your Heart eggs changed my vegan way of life. Really, really similar when it comes to scrambled or omelet style of eggs. However, they are not going to work for things like hard boiled or over easy. Chickpea flour is another eggy substitute that you can use. I have only ever made egg cups with this, but they were spot on, albeit a little dry (I recommend pairing with salsa, hot sauce or ketchup!) I also use flax meal if I am in need of an egg replacement for baking. 1 tablespoon of flax meal and 3 tablespoons of water equals one flax egg!

O T H E R

VEGAN CHOCOLATE BRANDS:

Basically, if you want something that is an animal product, there is now a vegan swap for it. There is no longer the excuse that you would have to go without some type of food that you love. Maybe you aren't ready to go fully vegan, that's okay. Have fun trying some new vegan restaurants, recipes and food items. If you are curious enough and want more information, I have a blog post about my vegan journey and resources that I recommend. 

Compassion starts on our plates. Sustainability can start on our plates. Let's change the world! 

Self-Love Lessons from the Women's Locker Room

 Secret Lagoon hot pot in Iceland

Secret Lagoon hot pot in Iceland

How a hot pot locker room in Iceland reminded me that body image is cultural and that self-love is a continual practice.

When was the last time you got naked in front of strangers? I practice getting metaphorically naked in front of strangers all the time on the internet in the form of baring my feelings, vulnerabilities and thoughts to the internet. However, on this last trip to Iceland, I learned that there are many ways to practice self-love and that just because we think we are comfortable in our bodies, there will always be lessons to learn. 

It was a cold late-January afternoon and we had decided to spend time at Gamla Laugin (or Secret Lagoon) which is a natural hot spring in the Golden Circle area of Iceland. After paying for my ticket, the worker reminded me that they do ask that we shower without a swimsuit on prior to entering the hot pot. (Many of Iceland’s pools have minimal or no chlorine in them, so for everyone’s peace of mind, all who get into the water have to make sure their body isn’t polluting it with germs.) I nodded, and headed towards the women's locker room.

I entered the fairly empty locker room with my friend that I was traveling with. We both chose a locker and began to strip off our many layers of winter clothing. I wasn't sure where the showers were located, so I wandered around getting oriented with the locker room. There was a concrete divider to separate the main part of the locker room with the line of shower heads. There were no curtain to divide them, no privacy. There were posters highlighting all the regions you must lather attentively: head, armpits, undercarriage, feet.

I meandered back to my locker with my mind racing. "I know they said to shower naked but I am sure it will be fine if I just keep my swimsuit on!", "Okay, my mind is made up, I will just wear my swimsuit into the shower, take it off momentarily and then pull it back on." I looked to my friend and voiced my concern. In America, we just aren't raised to see other women (or people) naked like in Europe or other cultures. In locker rooms, we have totally separate showers or, at the very least, they are separated by a curtain. 

Then, while still deciding what I was going to do, I noticed an older woman entering the shower area completely naked, like it was the most natural thing in the world. And that is when I realized it IS the most natural thing in the world. I felt a bit of jealousy for the women of Iceland, not just because they have the privilege of calling this beautiful country home but because they get to grow up feeling comfortable with the female form. They grow up feeling comfortable with their own body but also the bodies of real women. Real women with saggy breasts, pregnant bellies, stretch marks, cellulite, tall and thin, tall and squishy. There is no Photoshop in the locker rooms.

These few moments in the women's locker room were turning out to be quite introspective. What was I apprehensive about? What was I afraid of? What was making me uncomfortable? It was that woman that gave me courage. I pulled off my clothes and headed into the shower (which no one else was in, by the way). I felt proud of myself for not allowing whatever body-image demons that were lingering in my mind to win that day. I also felt this sense of freedom. I pulled on my swimsuit and opened the door to an arctic blast of wind. I hurried into the hot spring, and felt instant relief from the biting cold.

“I think the swimming pools are what make it possible to live here,” the young artist Ragnheidur Harpa Leifsdottir said. “You have storms, you have darkness, but the swimming pool is a place for you to find yourself again.”

When it was time to exit the hot spring and head back into the locker room, I had no apprehension. I peeled off my wet swimsuit and headed into the shower. I did take notice that there was a woman showering with her bikini on. I wondered if she was having an introspective moment of her own. I hoped that my courage would rub off on her. I hoped that she had a self-love practice. 

I wanted to tell you this story because it felt trans-formative for me. I wanted to remind you that self-love is a continual and daily practice. Shame demons come from nowhere sometimes, and that is okay. I encourage you to find your own "Icelandic hot pot locker room" moment. Practice standing in front of a mirror, naked, and speaking all the things that you love about your body.  Surround yourself with real women, real bodies. Stop punishing yourself trying to look like someone that you aren't or an image that was curated. 

Secret Lagoon

On another note, if you do find yourself in Iceland in search of the nearest hot pot, I highly recommend this website