Archive: Communication

June 7, 2018

Giving and Receiving Real Support


One of the things I’ve noticed when someone who is well known dies by suicide, is that people are quick to try to figure out why.

They want a reason…maybe because a reason gives us the illusion of control…or maybe because as humans we are meaning-making creatures.

I also see a flurry of posts about mental health, getting support and reaching out if you are struggling. And yes, if you are struggling and are able to reach out, do! Get support. Make requests. Let the people who love you know how they can help.

Here’s what I think is missing in this discussion – most people who are really struggling aren’t able to reach out. Demanding that people should have reached out or asked for support can be judgmental and blaming.

This winter I had the flu. It was awful! I was in bed for days, feverish, coughing so hard it hurt and every cell in my body ached. I was miserable. I totally needed support. And you know what? I was suffering so much, that I didn’t have the capacity to reach out and ask for help. Many of my closest friends and family didn’t even know I had the flu until I was “better.” I was focused on getting well (actually because I was dehydrated at one point and kind of hallucinating, I was really just focused on staying alive, that’s how rough this flu was). I had a couple friends who checked in on me during that time. One sent a message and I replied telling her I was really sick and she sweetly told me that if I needed anything to let her know. It was so nice and thoughtful, and also…I didn’t even know what I needed. I was too sick to be able to think or identify needs or make a plan or make a request. One of my friends who knew I was sick checked in and offered to bring food or offered to pick my daughter up from school. And that was the kind of help I was able to receive. All I had to do was say yes or no. That experience really helped me understand how hard it is for someone to reach out when they are struggling.

When some is struggling their entire capacity is being taken up by the struggle. There isn’t anything left. And even though a text message or phone call might not feel like it’s a lot,  it is too much to demand from someone who is depressed or anxious or grieving or really sick.

So in addition to asking people to reach out when they are struggling, I think we could also do a better job of reaching out to the people we love and seeing how they are. Check in with the people you love. Ask how they are doing. Get together. Be honest with each other. Share what’s on your mind and in your heart.

And if you have a friend who is grieving, or struggling with illness or mental health challenges or just having a hard time, offer tangible ways you want to show up for them. Don’t wait for them to reach out. Be proactive. Take action.

If you want more ideas about how to support a friend who is struggling this post will help.

Filed under: Communication,Friendship,Grief,health,Support,Vulnerability — admin @ 5:57 pm

November 17, 2017

Pleasure and Presence: A Gathering for Women

women's support

How do you nurture yourself during the holidays?

What happens to your self-care and self-love practice as the days get shorter and the to do lists get longer?

I know the holidays can be hard for many of us – Because of grief, or heartbreak, or overwhelm, or stress.

I know it’s easy to put yourself at the bottom of your priority list when it feels like there are so many other things that have to get done.

What would it be like to sit in a circle with other women – to feel seen, to feel understood, to share, to listen, to laugh, to connect, to slow down, to open to pleasure?

I’m so excited to be partnering with my friend, Nikki Weaver, to offer you just that!

On Sunday, December 10th we’re hosting – Pleasure and Presence: A Gathering for Women.

Together we will slow down and explore tangible ways you can be more present and explore more pleasure in your life (even during this busy season).

There will be –

Time for sharing and listening

Light movement

Exercises to help  you slow down and be in your body

And activities that will help you prioritize yourself and your pleasure even after you leave (and you will leave with a pleasure plan to help you relish the rest of this year!)

We’ll provide snacks and drinks

(and Nikki will be sending you home with a yummy scent to help you stay present and open to pleasure too)

As busy mom’s and business owners, we know how hard it can be to carve out time for yourself. We know what it’s like to feel stretched and tired and depleted. We also know the power of gathering in a group. We know how affirming it is do this work in the company of other women and hear, “me too!” or “You are not alone!” Powerful things happen when we gather. Beautiful things happen. And laughter happens too! We are looking forward to a nourishing and delight event!

Here are a few logistics –

December 10th from 4pm-6:30pm

This event is limited to 12 women

The location is NE Portland. We will send you the address after your register.

Registration is closed. Subscribe to my free newsletter to receive updates about our future offerings.

So much about this time of year focuses on taking care of others and giving to others. This workshop is an opportunity to give to yourself. This is a chance for you to slow down, let yourself receive and honor what you want and need. We are so excited to gather with you!

June 12, 2017

Does your partner know what you want?

relationship romance

Have you told your partner how you like to be seduced?

Have you shared what makes your body sing and your lips part and your back arch?

Do you ask for what you want (in and out of the bedroom)?

I hope so.

And if not, what gets in the way?

Many of the people I talk with share that they shouldn’t have to tell their partner what they want. They say it takes the romance or excitement out of it to have to say it out loud. Or they say it makes it less special if they have to ask for it.

In some ways, I think that we’ve been condition to think that. We see it in movies or read about it in books. We dream of someone who will know our body better than we even know it.

So if our partner doesn’t know how we like to be kissed or what kind of foreplay we like or how to help us have an orgasm…we get annoyed. Or we get critical. Or we shut down. We blame them for not being skilled enough or intuitive enough.

And really it’s not fair.

If I asked you to make my favorite cake but refused to tell you what kind of a cake it was or how to make it, would that be fair?

Your partner can’t read your mind.

If there is something you would like, ask for it. There is no shame in asking.

And if you don’t know what you like or what you want, take some time and let yourself be curious. Explore on your own or with your partner.

(I  also know that some people have asked for what they want and aren’t getting it. Perhaps your partner needs some sex education. Or maybe your partner needs to work on listening or remembering what you like. It’s frustrating when you have been clear about what you want and you aren’t getting it. Check in with yourself about this. Does your partner not know what you want because they aren’t paying attention? Or is it because you haven’t asked for it?)

March 27, 2017

Relationships Need Attention

Man Kissing Woman

One of the things I love most about intimate relationships is that they are a place we can be seen and loved for who we truly are. You don’t have to pretend. You don’t have to prove our worth. You can exhale and just be. It’s wonderful!

Sometimes that comfort can shift into taking a partner for granted. You know what I’m taking about, right?

You’ve had those days where you were cheery at work and provided a shoulder for your friend to cry on and you were extra patient with your child and at the end of the day you are exhausted and cranky and you snap at your partner.

Sometimes the people we love the most are the people who get the scraps at the end of the day.

Sometimes the places we feel most secure are the places we give the least attention.

There is a popular myth that relationships should be easy and self-sustaining. And while I believe that relationships can be easy and self-sustaining at times…most things in life require loving attention in order to flourish.

What about your relationship?

How do you show love and appreciation to your partner?

How do you want your partner to show you love and appreciation?

Sometimes we show love in one way but our partner wants something else. Maybe you use words to express your love, but your partner craves touch. Or perhaps you like spending time with your partner but your partner shows you love by doing things for you. Here is an activity you can do to help you both feel more loved and appreciated in your relationship.

Make a list of 10 things your partner can do to help you feel loved or appreciated.

  • Make sure the items on your list are tangible and executable (instead of “Love me”, write “Tell me you love me every day”).
  • Include a few “easy” things on your list.  (you don’t want 10 items that are similar to “plan our next vacation”, “clean the whole house”, “play a date night” – a few of these are OK, but the harder the items are the longer it will take your partner to do them and the longer it will take for you to feel loved).
  • List things positively (avoid asking for behaviors to stop, instead focus on the behaviors that will make you feel loved.  Rather than “stop spending so much money” try “create a budget with me.”)
  • Include some variety. If you feel loved by having sex then that should be on your list, but 10 items that include sex may be overwhelming for your partner. Are there other things that “count” for you?
  • If there are any hot button topics in your relationship (ie sex, money, etc) you may decide to keep these things off the list all together.
  • You can include things that already happen, things that used to happen or things that are new.

Include things that really resonate with you. What are the things that make you smile or feel warm? What are the things that make you want to tell your friends how great your partner is?

“Bring me flowers.” “Kiss me when I come home from work.” “Leave me a love note.” “Pick up my favorite treat at the store.” “Plan a date for us.” “Go on a walk with me.” “Initiate sex.” “Compliment me.”

Then share your lists with each other. Try not be defensive as you hear what your partner wants. Then post your lists somewhere that you can see them and start using them. When you want to express love, go to your partner’s list. When you feel loved and want to reciprocate, go to your partner’s list. The more love we feel, the more love we have to give.

And if you really want to infuse your relationship with loved and connection and intimacy, check out my e-course Shower Your Partner with Love.

It’s packed with videos, exercises and activities you can do with your partner. It’s also self-paced so you can do it on your own time, at your own speed and in the comfort of your own home. It’s a great way to prioritize your relationship and really show each other your care. Learn more about the course here.

November 7, 2015

Foreplay or Boreplay?

Marriage kissing softly in bed

I hear from a surprising number of people who find foreplay boring. Sometimes they tell me it’s too predictable. Sometimes they tell me they don’t like the way their partner touches them. Sometimes they tell me they are simply going through the motions to get to the part of sex they really enjoy.

I’ve been doing this work long enough to know that there are some people who truly don’t like foreplay. And if that is the case for you, no judgement. That’s your preference.

Most of the time I’m working with people who don’t know what their capacity for foreplay is.

They are bored with it because they are checked out during it.

They aren’t sure what the point of foreplay is.

They feel insecure about who they are as a lover.

They feel lost.

They don’t like how their partner is touching them and they don’t know how to ask for something else.

They doubt what they want or like because their partner has told them “everyone else I’ve been with loves this” or “every other woman likes to be touched like this.”

They say they have lost that “passion” that drove them when they first starting making love with their partner.

Or they feel like they aren’t “doing it right.”

Occasionally I hear from people who feel too exposed or vulnerable during foreplay. They feel selfish or uncomfortable when their partner focuses on them.

Here are a few things to help bring energy and enjoyment into your foreplay.

Curiosity – Foreplay doesn’t have to be rehearsed or “perfect.” Let yourself be curious. Ask your partner how something feels. Experiment. Play. People are often afraid of looking foolish during sex or trying something new because it feels too risky. If you don’t try something new, you risk getting bored or going through the motions. Try a different kind of touch, a different pressure, a different texture. Focus on a different body part. Practice a different kind of kiss. And as you try something new, follow your partner’s response (notice her body, her breath, any sounds she makes).

Sensuality – Lead with your senses. What are you seeing, smelling, tasting, touching, hearing? More than that, titillate you senses. What would your senses enjoy? What do you want to taste? Can you hear your partner’s breath or heartbeat. What do you want to feel with your fingertips and how does your body yearned to be touched? Open your eyes, what do you see?

Pleasure – Embrace pleasure. What would feel good? What would you enjoy? Perhaps it’s less about touch right now and more about hearing your partner’s voice whispering something in your ear. If you aren’t sure what will feel good, then let yourself be curious. Try something new and then really check in with yourself. Did I like that? What might I enjoy more? Connect with your pleasure outside of sex so that it’s easier to cultivate pleasure in the bedroom. What feels good? What satisfies you? Or practice touch and pleasure on your own and then share what you like with your partner.

Just like sex isn’t one size fits all – Foreplay is highly unique. It’s up to your to tune into your body and your pleasure. It’s up to you to get clear about what feels good. It’s up to you to know what turns you on! Your pleasure is yours. Give yourself permission to take the time and energy to make it really enjoyable!

August 28, 2015

What I learned from peddling sex toys.

Sex Toys

For four years I was welcomed in to women’s homes and talked to them about sex. When I first signed up to be a Pure Romance consultant I was interested in the presentation part of the parties. It appealed to the performer in me. I wanted to stand in front of a group of women and talk to them, educate them and hopefully laugh with them. I wanted to take this very taboo topic and make it more accessible and make it playful. I wanted to start a conversation. I had no idea that the part of the job that would most move me was what I learned from women and all of the intimate stories they shared. I had no idea that these strangers would open their hearts and tell me some of their most vulnerable and intimate secrets, fears and desires. I had no idea that this would be one of the biggest catalysts that would launch me in the direction of being a sex therapist.

At these parties I would arrive, carrying giant bins of lotions, potions and toys. I would set up in a living room or dining room. Women would gather and eat and drink and giggle and then I would start my presentation. I stood in front of the group and would tell stories and talk about products and pass them around. The women were able to hold toys in their hands and see what they felt like. I loved to read the room and use just the right amount of humor to help the partygoers relax into the evening. I was often approached by women who shared they first felt uncomfortable about coming to the event but they loved it so much that they wanted to host their own party. We would laugh and talk and some of the women would share stories with the other women about products they loved or toys they had tried. And then after I had shared all of the information about the available products I would go into another room of the house (usually an office or bedroom) and one-by-one or two-by-two the women would come and order from me (privately).

And here is where some of them cried as they told me they had never had an orgasm.

Here is where they shared they didn’t feel any desire but really want to.

Here is where they told me the kinds of sex they love or the kinds of sex they pine for.

Here is where they opened their hearts and took me into their confidence.

Here is where my life changed.

One of the things I love most about my work is helping people talk about uncomfortable things. Often that is sex, but sometimes it is grief or fear or anger. I love helping people use their voice. I love helping people communicate. I love helping people feel heard. I also love demystifying sex and bring it out of the shadows and into your living room.

Here are some of the things I learned all those years ago when I was welcomed in to strangers homes and talked with them about sex.

People want to feel normal (at least when it comes to sex). A lot of the women I saw compared themselves (their bodies, their desire, their sex lives) to other people or what they saw on TV and in the movies…and they often felt like they didn’t measure up. They viewed what they saw in the media as “normal” and they really wanted to be normal. And if they had less desire than what they saw or struggled with arousal or orgasm, they felt broken.

A lot of the women I met wanted to want sex. Even if they didn’t feel spontaneous desire, the women I met wanted to want sex with their partners. They wanted to feel more desire. They wanted to feel less inhibited. They wanted to love sex. Some of these women wanted to want sex for their partner, but some of them really wanted it for themselves.

Many of the women wanted someone else to teach them, reach them or wake them up. When we talked about masturbation or learning what they liked, they weren’t very interested. They were convinced that the right person, toy or pill would figure it out for them. I think many of us have been misinformed. We’ve been taught that the right man or woman will rush in, sweep us off our feet and make all of our pleasure areas light up. Here’s the thing. If you want to enjoy sex more, you will need to explore what YOU like. And you can absolutely invite someone to be a part of that process. You can ask your partner for help. But you also have to be an active participant. Pleasure is an inside job.

I talked with a lot of women who were afraid that using a vibrator would mean competition for their partner. Some of these women were in relationship with men who told them they were worried about becoming obsolete if there is a vibrator involved. Here’s the thing. Vibrators are GREAT! They are a wonderful tool and can really speed up the arousal and orgasm process. It’s lovely to use them on your own or with a partner. And it’s true, they do move at a faster speed than a human can. But they also can’t wrap their arms around you, press the weight of their bodies against you, kiss you or tell you they love you.

Many of the women I met were focused on pleasing their partner. They wanted products their partners would love. They wanted things that would make them more desirable or drive their lover wild in bed. What I’ve learn from my therapy work with couples is that one of the best ways to drive your lover wild is to really enjoy sex! Your pleasure is sexy!!!

I also met women who were really comfortable with sex. I met women who felt really in touch with their desire and pleasure and arousal. I met women who really love sex.

If you recognize yourself in any of the above groups, know that you are not alone. One of the reasons I do the work that I do is because I want it to be easier for us to talk about sex. If we can talk about it, we can learn and grow. If we talk about it you will also learn that you are not broken and you are not alone!

Filed under: Communication,Pleasure,Self-love,Sexual Being,Sexuality — admin @ 11:22 am

June 25, 2015

If sex is natural, why is it so complicated?

uninterested in sex

Sex is natural.

It should be spontaneous.

Sex should be easy.

You should want it.

I hear the above messages in my office and in the world, over and over and over again. We have so many ideas about how sex SHOULD look, that when it strays from that, it feels bad.

If sex is easy and natural, why are so many people struggling with it?

Sex is natural in the sense that animals have sex and it’s a function of our bodies…but it’s more nuanced than that. Talking is natural. Walking is natural. And we still have to learn to do those things. Making sounds might be natural, but stringing those sounds into words that communicate meaning, that takes practice. Sex and connecting in a way that brings mutual pleasure or expresses love or passion, also takes practice. It takes energy. It requires attention and intention. It is nuanced.

Even deciding what counts as sex can be nuanced. Your definition of sex might be different than your partners. If sex was totally natural, wouldn’t everybody do it the same way? (just in case you are wondering, there are plenty of ways to have sex. People have all sorts of personal ideas about what counts as sex).

Two different people coming together with all of their own expectations and histories and ideas about sex might need a bit of negotiation to reach each other. Simply touching genitals or putting an organ into an orifice might not be complicated, but those things might not bring pleasure. What about tempo? Pressure of touch? Foreplay? Arousal? Eye gazing? Coaxing and teasing and encouraging each other to the point of ecstasy?

One of the things that makes sex even trickier is that we get so many messages that sex is easy and people are just walking around bursting with desire. We see it on magazine covers and we watch it unfold on our screens. We see couples spontaneously kissing and tearing clothes off and jumping into bed and then exploding with mutual orgasms without any foreplay (not to mention using lubricant or putting on a condom or struggling with erectile disfunction or difficulties with orgasm). We see sex depicted in a way that is easy and constantly accessible and natural. So if it doesn’t feel that way for you, the message you receive is that there is something wrong with you.

Sex is lovely and beautiful and can be filled with ease. And sometimes it’s messy and frustrating and hard to prioritize. That doesn’t mean there is anything wrong with you. It just means there might be room for you to explore your own pleasure. You might need to work on asking for what you want or add more sexual tools to your tool box.

Instead of telling yourself or your parter that you SHOULD want sex, try asking –

What would make you want sex? What do you like about sex? What would make sex appealing to you? What gives you pleasure? What would make sex easier for you? How can I make our sex a more exciting or pleasurable or loving experience for you?

Instead of looking outside for what makes sex good or normal or hot, look inside. And then share that with your partner.

Sex doesn’t have to be difficult, but it does require communication.

Filed under: Communication,Desire,Relationship,Sexual Being,Sexuality,Shame — admin @ 5:52 am

March 3, 2015

Reinvent the Love Letter

I come from a line of letter writers. My mom, my gram and I still exchange letters. I was raised to write thank you letters. I also send letters of celebration and sympathy to the people I love. And I try to send letters “just because” to tell my friends or family I love them or are thinking of them or I think they are great.

In my office I often hear stories from people who yearn for loving words from their partner. I hear about people holding on to post it notes with a brief “I think you’re great” message or grocery lists scribbled on a scrap of paper that also include,“You’re sexy!”. I often witness one partner saying to the other, “You never give me cards anymore” or “I miss your sweet notes”.

Love letters make love stay visible. You can rub it, smell it, touch it, share it and sleep with it under your pillow. Sark

When I was last in Paris, I sent a postcard to myself as a reminder that what I want is possible.

Paris Letter

Love letters help take a snap shot of a current period of time. They can act as a reminder or memory keeper.

Love letters don’t have to include “How do I love thee, let me count the ways.” They don’t have to be long or eloquent or complicated.

Love letters can be short.

A note with a simple, “I love you!” goes a long way.

Love letters can be sexy.

Love letters don’t have to include the word love. You can write about gratitude, appreciation, what you admire or notice about a person or words of encouragement.

I’ve written about my happiness jar. The notes I put inside act as love letters to a future me. A week ago I emptied my happiness jar and read about all of the special moments I recorded. I was especially moved to find this note my mom secretly place in the jar.

Mom Note

I found this love letter almost a year after it was written!

When I’m in a relationship I like to leave little notes around the house for my partner to find. These are often brief and hidden in dvd cases or in pockets of clothing or in bathroom drawers or in the stack of dinner plates in the cupboard. Some of the notes are easy to find and are discovered in a day or two and others are found months later.

These love notes can be short

I love your eyes.

I love the way you kiss my neck.

You are a great mother.

You inspire me.

I admire you.

I’m so lucky to be loved by you.

What about leaving love notes for your friends or family? A card can be delivered in the mail or you can leave one the next time you are visiting. I can’t wait until my next trip to Michigan. I’m going to love bomb my mom’s house!

You can also leave love notes for strangers. Leave a “Your garden is amazing!” note for the special house you walk by every day. Slip a “You are worthy” or “You are lovable” note into library books.

Write a love letter with chalk on the sidewalk.

You Are Loved

Love breeds love. Let’s start a love revolution!

December 23, 2014

Give Your Partner Your Presence


Are you looking for the perfect present for your partner this holiday?

Give your partner your presence.

Give your partner your attention. Show up fully. Listen. Engage. Be supportive.

How do you feel connected in your relationship?

How do you know your partner is present or listening? How do you let your partner know you are listening?

It’s easy to get stressed out searching for the perfect gift. It’s easy to feel distracted by endless tasks and to do lists. It’s easy to coast through the holidays on autopilot. What about slowing down and connecting with your partner? What about giving the gift of your presence?

Here are some ways you can give your partner (or any loved one) your presence –

  • Put down your phone, turn off the tv or look away from your computer when he is talking.
  • Create a ritual together.
  • Give an experience – a trip, date, adventure.
  • Touch your partner with intention – instead of an absent-minded massage or lackluster foreplay, touch your partner with love and active awareness.
  • When talking, listen to your partner and validate her experience. John Gottman, suggests telling your partner what you heard her say and then adding, “It makes sense you feel that way because ______________.”

Here are some other resources for this holiday season –

Be Gentle With Yourself This Holiday Season

Focus on your relationship this holiday season

Shower Your Partner with Love is a 3 week self-study e-course that will help you focus on your relationship and give your partner your presence.

Filed under: Communication,Holidays,Relationship — admin @ 11:28 am

October 17, 2014

Shower Your Partner with Love is HERE!


With so many things competing for our attention, it’s easy to put your relationship on the back burner. When there are deadlines at work, wee ones tugging on your sleeve or dust bunnies the size of elephants taking over you home – showering your partner with love is often not even on your radar.

Shower Your Partner with love is three weeks dedicated to you and your partner. Three weeks of love and attention and romance and intimacy. Three weeks to take you from comfortable to connected – from after thought to after glow.

This self-study PDF is for anyone who is in a loving relationship and wants –

  • To feel more connected
  • More romance
  • To make their relationship a priority
  • More joy in their relationship
  • Greater ease with sex or talking about sex (and more pleasure, passion or connection during sex)
  • to focus on the positive in your relationship
  • Tangible ways to help your partner feel loved and for your partner to help you feel loved
  • Daily connection or shared ritual in your relationship
  • More kindness in your relationship

What we’ll cover –

  • Specific ways you feel loved and how to share them with your partner
  • Cultivating gratitude in and for your relationship
  • Creating daily connection – no more ships just passing in the night
  • Ways to interrupt negative cycles and ways to create positive ones (love begets love, passion begets passion, hope begets hope)
  • Deepening intimacy – in and out of the bedroom
  • Sex – you know I couldn’t host a class for couples without throwing sex in there!
  • Romance
  • Small things you can do to make your relationship a priority
  • Giving and Receiving
  • And More…

How it works –

The online course took place earlier this fall. You can now purchase the complete PDF that includes video, audio, writing prompts, activities and exercises. The PDF is laid out so you can complete it in three weeks or do it at your own pace. I’ve given you something to do with your partner or for your relationship each day for three weeks.

I also included a bonus 21 ways to shower your partner with love after you complete the course!

It’s a tune up for your relationship. Three weeks dedicated to your love. Three weeks where you can really focus on each other. Three weeks where you can feel adored and also adore your partner.

Cost: $59

Add to Cart

You wouldn’t expect your garden to grow without tending it. You don’t expect your car to run without filling it with gas or changing the oil. Your relationship (and your partner) will flourish when you put some energy toward it.

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