Archive: Receiving

December 20, 2019

Come to Italy with me!

Join me and Nikki Weaver for a luscious and life-changing retreat in our own Tuscan Villa!


Vibrant Living – A Woman’s Retreat in Italy!

September 5-12, 2020


As you stand in the crystalline water you look to your right and see a friend reading a book on a lounge chair. To the left you see a trio of women doing yoga in the grass. You pause and notice the way the water feels against your skin. You move your hands, skimming the surface of the pool, drinking in the sensuality of the moment. A slight breeze makes the hair on the back of your neck dance around. You hear laughter in the distance and lift your face toward the sun feeling the heat warm your cheeks.

You pause and drink it all in before going back to your room to get ready for dinner. When you arrive at the table, you are greeted you with a hug and a glass of wine. You pass dishes of colorful and nourishing food as you talk about your day and the previous week. You talk about the adventures, the breakthroughs, the things you’ve learned, the gelato, the pleasure and the sacred moments. You look around the room and see each of these beautiful women lit up from the inside. You close your eyes and capture this moment. You want to bring this back home with you. You want to remember how alive you feel. You want to remember how beautiful you are. You want to remember this trip and all of the ways you have awakened and embraced pleasure.

Are you ready to feel good? Really, really good?

  • Are you ready for sensual living?

  • Are you ready to move your body in ways that feel enlivening?

  • Are you ready for delicious food?

  • Are you ready to name and honor what you want?

  • Are you ready to feel in love with yourself and with your life?

  • Are you ready for travel, adventure and transformative experiences?

  • Are you ready to gather in Italy with a group of wonderful women and embrace pleasure, presence and luscious living?

Why Pleasure?

Life is hard. It can be exhausting. As women we are often pulled in many directions and trying to do it all (and do it perfectly). Often your wants and needs and desire are not only put on the back burner, they are buried. There are too many other things competing for your time and attention.

Pleasure is “a feeling of happy satisfaction and enjoyment.” When you connect to that satisfaction and enjoyment, the rest of life is easier. When you engage with pleasure you bring richness, vibrancy and joy into your life. Pleasure fills your bucket and gives you energy. Pleasure feels good. It lights us up.

This retreat is for women who –

  • Are ready to focus on their own pleasure and enjoyment

  • Are looking to be inspired

  • Want to move their bodies in a way that feels good and be fully embodied

  • Want to connect with other delightful women in a meaningful way

  • Are committed to honoring themselves

  • Are ready to let their light shine, feel great and live a life they truly love!

What you will experience

  • Daily yoga lead by Nikki

  • Daily workshops with Julie – We will explore pleasure, sensuality, honoring our wants and needs, passion, open-hearted living, and more. Workshops will include: education, inspiration and space for sharing and dialogue with the group. Magic happens when you get a group of women together. It’s in the space of a group that we learn we are not alone. It’s in the space of a group that you can really be seen and understood.

  • Excursions to attractions in Tuscany (wine tasting, an afternoon in Lucca, cooking lessons, and more)

  • Free time to relax at our private villa (enjoy the pool, the many indoor and outdoor sitting areas, or explore the countryside)

  • Time with an intimate group of women where you can talk about your experience and what you want in your life (this retreat is limited to 14 women)

You can read more about the retreat (and all the delicious details) here!

Gathering on retreat isn’t about escaping your life. We gather in this beautiful location as a way to pause, center, fill up and then bring that luscious energy back to our lives. Our goal is that you will leave this retreat feeling nourished, engaged, inspired and Vibrant!

January 19, 2018

Be Your Own Beloved: a gathering for women

be your own beloved

Nikki Weaver and I are thrilled to offer – Be Your Own Beloved!

Together we’ll explore what it means to love, honor and cherish ourselves!

One of the things we hear over and over from women is that it is so hard to prioritize yourself. Maybe you don’t have time or energy. Maybe you feel guilty or selfish. Maybe you are just too tired or depleted. Perhaps you don’t even know what it means to prioritize yourself. We get it. We know it can feel hard or even foreign to really focus on yourself (and asking you to do more than prioritize yourself, but treat yourself like you are beloved, may even feel scary!)

We also know the power of self-care, self-acceptance and self-love! We know that amazing things happen in your life when you love yourself and honor yourself. And we know the power of gathering a group of women! We know how validating and life-giving it is to sit with other women and laugh or cry or listen or share and hear, “me too!” or “You are not alone!”

Powerful things happen when we gather. Beautiful things happen when we gather. We are so excited to gather with YOU!

Together we will explore –

Self-care, self-love, self-acceptance – what do they all mean and how do you do them?

Being in your body and feeling pleasure in your body

What it means to be your own BELOVED

Light movement and exercises that will help you delight in your own body

Exercises and practices to help you honor your own wants and needs and treat yourself like the precious woman you are!

A Few Logistics –

April 21st from 11am-3pm

This event is limited to 12 women

We will have snacks and drinks

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

The cost is $100

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

What would it be like to also attend to your own wants and needs? What would it be like to prioritize yourself and your pleasure? What would it be like to be your own beloved?

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!

January 26, 2016

How Much Pain Will You Tolerate?

angle of grief

What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.

God wouldn’t give you more than you can handle.

Challenges build character.

If we can get through this, we can get through anything.

No pain, no gain.

There is a lot of glorification of pain in our culture. There are a lot of stories about pain making us stronger. And while it’s true that through adversity we can grow…it’s also true that there is a limit to how much we can (or need to) endure.

Years ago I was an actress and during a show I passed a kidney stone on stage. I was in excruciating pain, but I kept going. After the show one of my co-actors said to me, “I’m really impressed with you. What you did, only actors or athletes could do!” I remember wearing that statement like a badge of honor. I was proud of myself for pushing through. There is a lot that can be said for honoring your obligations and commitments. And at the same time, I totally ignored my pain in order to keep going. Earlier that day I had called my urologist (I had been in the hospital for kidney stones a few days prior) and complained about pain and he told me I was being sensitive and I should take another vicodin. So I listened to the expert and told myself that I was overreacting. I told myself I was being weak and I went out in the world (and on stage) and ignored my pain.

For anyone living with chronic pain, you know what it is like to desensitize yourself from your pain. You are so used to the pain that it starts to be incorporated in how you feel every day. What might be a 7 for someone else on the pain scale, becomes a 4 for you, because that is your normal. Your relationship to pain changes. Your tolerance for pain changes. And sometimes you suffer greatly.

This doesn’t only happen with physical pain, but also with emotional pain. If you’ve been ignored in a relationship or treated poorly, you may expect to be treated that way. If you are used to taking care of others without much reciprocity, you power through when you need support. You may deny your own wants and needs. You make it work.

If you’ve been sick for a week, your coworker may respond with, “You think that’s bad? I’ve been sick for 2 weeks!” As we compete for whose life is harder, we start to doubt our own experience.

You’re crazy.”

Don’t be so sensitive.”

You’re overreacting.”

Man up!”

Don’t be silly.”

It’s not a big deal.”

Don’t you trust me?”

It’s not that bad.”

If you’ve been tolerating quite a bit of pain then you might start to doubt your own intuition. If your own pain radar goes off but someone else tells you it’s not a big deal, you might start to believe them and ignore yourself. As someone else invalidates your experience, you may believe them. You wonder, ‘Am I overreacting? Is it really that bad?’ You see other people soldiering on and you feel like you should do the same.

Pain is inevitable. Things happen that are hard or sad or excruciating. There will be pain. There are also limits to what you need to endure.

Take a little inventory in your own life. How much pain are you tolerating?

(I didn’t ask how much you CAN tolerate, I know that you are strong and able to tolerate pain, but do you need to?)

How much pain are you willing to tolerate?

Is there anything that will alleviate some of your pain?

Support from friends or family

Seeing a doctor

Exploring your grief

Hiring a coach or therapist

Delegating or getting help with tasks

Getting more sleep

Radical Self Care

There is no shame in making your life easier. Getting support doesn’t make you weak. And tolerating excruciating pain doesn’t always make you strong.

Filed under: Receiving,Strength,Support,Trust — admin @ 5:00 pm

December 22, 2015

Give Experiences, Make Memories

Photo by Jody Grenier

Photo by Jody Grenier

It’s the most wonderful time of the year!

Everywhere I go people are wishing me happy holidays and Merry Christmas. People seem extra warm and cheery. Kids are buzzing with the anticipation of opening presents. And if they are lucky, parents are taking pauses and breaths and soaking it all in rather than racing and and missing it.

Fast forward to a few days after the holiday. The gifts have been opening. The trash can is overflowing with wrapping paper. And you are surrounded by things you may not want or need.

I love giving gift and I love receiving them too. I’m also at a place where I no longer want things just to have them. Can you relate? Of course there are things that make my life easier or bring beauty or tickle me. There are things I value. These days, however, I’m more interested in experiences. It looks like I’m not alone in this. Right now there is so much information out there about getting rid of clutter and simplifying your life. There is also some very interesting research about our brains and happiness and experiences being more meaningful to us (and memorable) than material belongings.

If you are interested in giving experiences this holiday season, here are some places you can start.

Give a Membership or Subscription

A membership to a museum, dance company, rock climbing gym, state park, etc. Every time the recipient uses the membership they will think of you!

Give a Service

You can offer your services (i.e. make a coupon book with various tasks you are offering to do: childcare, help with cleaning or vehicle maintenance, etc). Or you can purchases services. Hire someone to help declutter (this won’t go over very well if the decluttering is more for you than it is for the recipient). Hire someone to help with shopping, cooking or a makeover (If the makeover isn’t on the receiver’s wish list, this could be received as an insult). Give a massage. Choose a service that will make life easier or lovelier.

Give Your Presence

Show up. Tune in. Be present.

Plan a Getaway

Whether it’s just an overnight, or a week vacation; plan a special experience. You will give the gift of anticipation as you approach the getaway, the actual getaway will be a gift and then you get the added gift of the memories you will look back on after the event.

Give an Event

A concert, a night at a special restaurant, a sporting event, etc. Find something that will really resonate with the person receiving your gift. Psst Pleasure in Paris counts as a getaway and an event! And a super special holiday gift!!!

Give Education

A language class, a dance class, a cooking class, etc. You can purchase something the receiver does on their own or you do together. I offer 6 different self-study classes. And they are currently 25% off! Use code – holiday25 – at check out.

If your wish list has a lot of “things” on it, that is OK. It’s also possible to think outside the traditional gift box and asking for some experiences or give the gift of memories.

Filed under: Holidays,Receiving,Relationship — admin @ 8:47 am

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!

May 6, 2015

Turned On: awaken your want and dare to desire

Turned On FINAL sans dates - lorez

TURNED ON: awaken your want and dare to desire

A course devoted to pleasure and creation, intimacy with ourselves and connection with the world.

Because it is all connected, and some part of us knows this, always.

Because it just may be possible that what you seek is also seeking you.

Because you’ve been asleep, or you set aside those parts of you that were hungry for experience and expression, and now everything inside you is restless to wake up and be turned on to life, the ecstatic and the voluptuous and the clarity in moments when it is just you and the morning and the quiet and you know the names that live just beneath your skin.

Because you want to know what it would look like and feel like for your sensuality to belong to your spirituality instead of severed into two separate selves.

Because asking, just taking the risk and asking for what we want, is not something we are taught how to do, and it might feel really good to have a place to practice and play with what it feels like on the tongue and in your heart and the sound of your own voice coming out clear while you are celebrated for daring to desire.

Because the answer just might be yes.

Because intimacy is about a way of being in relationship with life herself, turned on to the vibrations of creativity, erotic and messy and glorious.

Because it feels like this moment may be your moment, the one where there is no more waiting,

and you begin.

Let’s ignite the spark, heed the hunger and dive into desire.

Let’s practice and play together.

Two weeks of immersion into beauty and substance,

provocations of imagination

and real life ways to explore your own awakening,

diving into the uncharted territories of our own true want.


awaken the want and dare to desire

January 4th – January 17th, 2016

Together we will be:

Listening to our desire, from the center and out to the edges.
Learning how to ask for what we want, and practicing in community.
Connecting to pleasure and what feels good, and how this infuses our offerings and informs our loving.
Taking risks and claiming our truths.
Honoring the body’s language and welcoming her wisdom.
Heating things up in the daring desires and the daily rituals, so whether we are walking down the street on our way to work or stepping into a new love affair or showing up for the art that has our deepest devotion, we are, in every way, turned on to life.

How it works:

• The course is two weeks, with devotion and desire coming straight to your inbox Mondays-Fridays.

Content includes writing, video and audio recordings from both Julie and Isabel. There will be prompts for reflection and contemplation, exercises and experiments to play with, and questions to contemplate in your own process. It’s like a combination of a beautiful treasure hunt, a long love letter, and a permission slip to get curious and learn what works for you in your own awakening.

There will also be a private facebook group for those who want to come explore and practice together.

We get to enter into these adventures with the support of others walking through their own doors of discovery, where we come together to experience the power in our own desire, the freedom to want what we want, and the practice of communicating with clarity to those we love and the wider world. Here, turned on, co-creating with life force.

When you are turned on to life, it’s not just your sex that is saucier. Life itself expands. Passion is ignited. The experience of being here, awake in the world, is true intimacy. Let’s create a place to experiment and explore, to get naked with ourselves and walk awake and unbound, into the living.


Isabel and Julie


awaken the want and dare to desire

January 4th – January 17th, 2016


Registration is currently closed.

Julie Jeske

Julie Jeske
I am a sex therapist who helps clients increase intimacy, passion, sexual satisfaction and pleasure so they can develop a deeper connection with self or others.

My goal is to help demystify sex. I want to bring sex out of the shadows and into the living room. Let’s shine a light on sexuality and intimacy so they are no longer big scary things, but rather something that everyone feels they can embrace and enjoy.

isabel abbott profile pic

Isabel Abbott

I am a writer, artist and activist.

Fallen in love with solid ground, with belonging to the body and the holiness of hunger, I write and speak on the sacred and profane, on choosing wholeness.

With a professional background as a birth and death doula, a sex educator and an embodiment and movement workshop facilitator, I work with those crossing thresholds, questioning their gods, wrestling with their love, grieving and dying into life.

August 15, 2014

Shower Your Partner with Love!


  • How much energy do you put into your relationship?
  • How often do you make your partner a priority?
  • How does your partner make sure you feel loved and cared for?

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.

A committed relationship offers comfort and stability. It’s nice to know someone has your back. It’s nice to know that someone will be there at the end of the day. It’s nice to be a part of a team.

It’s also easy to get a bit too comfortable. It’s easy to say “I love you” as part of a routine. It’s easy to tune out when asking about your partner’s day. It’s easy to really care about each other and still get into a rut. It’s easy to go through the motions or be on auto-pilot.

Shower Your Partner with love is 3 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.

Couples often tell me how much they miss the “honeymoon phase.” This class won’t bring you back to that time (I can’t recreate all of the love chemicals that were going off in your brain when you first got together) but it will help you look at your partner as your LOVER rather than you co-manager or roommate. I will put your attention on the love you have for each other. I will give you ideas for ways you can turn up the volume on that love and and create some tenderness or heat in your relationship.

This class 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 –

You will received an email every week day from September 8th – September 26th. The emails will include video, audio, writing prompts, activities and exercises. I’ll share tangible ways you can shower your partner with love (the beautiful thing is that you partner will get the same email and be showering you right back with love!).

For 3 weeks you will receive multiple ways and ideas to cultivate love in your relationship.

It’s a tune up for your relationship. 3 weeks dedicated to your love. 3 weeks where you can really focus on each other. 3 weeks where you can feel adored and also adore your partner.

After the 3 weeks you will receive a PDF version of all the material and you can revisit it on your own at any time.


$59 per couple

This class is currently full. The PDF will be available for purchase in October.

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.

There are so many things competing for your attention – give yourself and your partner the gift of 3 weeks where you both are showered with love!

February 23, 2014

Shower Yourself With Love


Are you ready? Ready for –

An entire month dedicated to YOU!

An entire month of LOVE!

An entire month where you get to be a priority!

Shower Yourself With Love – An online class for women.

April showers bring May flowers. What will a month of love bring?

4 weeks

March 31 – April 27th

We throw bridal showers to honor future brides and baby showers to honor future moms…what about showering YOURSELF with love?
If I had one wish, it would be that everyone feels love…a love that originates from inside…a knowing that you are lovable and enough and worthy. Yes, world peace or ending hunger or saving the planet…all of those things pull at me as well. But the one thing I see in my office over and over, the one thing I see that causes pain and uncertainty and judgement and anger and feelings of worthlessness is a lack of self love. Self love. It’s the foundation for all other love. It’s the foundation for trust and confidence and connection. It’s the foundation for life.

Even if you do fundamentally feel loveable and love yourself…how often do you treat yourself with love? What about showering yourself with love? This is an opportunity to spend an entire month learning about what helps you feel loveable and doing things to help you feel loved.

4 Weeks of Love!

4 Weeks of Self-Love!

You will Receive –

An email every Monday, Wednesday and Friday from March 31st – May 3rd.

Exercises, journal prompts and activities.

A video each week.

Spreecasts where you can ask questions or check in with other participants.

We will cover

Self love – what is it, what does it feel like, where does it come from?

What gets in the way of love?

Self-esteem (how is that different than self-love?)

Telling your inner critic to pipe down!

Self-care VS. Self-love – How are they different? How are they connected?

Being your own best lover

Loving your body and your sexual self

Ways to feel love EVERY day

Cultivating Pleasure, Joy, Gratitude and Intimacy – see how these things turn up the volume on love

and MORE…

Are you ready?  Ready to soak it all in?  Ready to infuse yourself with love?  Ready to shower yourself with love?

Maybe you feel fundamentally lovable – but you are tired and disconnected or overwhelmed…this class will fill you up, replenish you and remind you who you are.

This isn’t just a little bit of self-love – it’s a full on shower. I am ready for it!  Ready for a month of full-volume, light shining, graciously receiving, brimming to the top with goodness self-lovin’!

Will you let me help you love yourself?

It’s only $39. Trust me, love, you are worth it!

Registration is currently closed. Look for the PDF to be released in early May.

February 5, 2014

Living isn’t for the faint of heart

This beautiful traveling altar was sent to me by a wonderful supporter and someone who recognizes when I am "in it."

This beautiful traveling altar was sent to me by a wonderful supporter and someone who recognizes when I am "in it."

So many big things are happening. So many of us are IN IT! And sometimes it is hard.

Major changes, challenges, growth opportunities and struggles.

We are starting businesses, ending relationships, raising children, speaking out truths, saying goodbye to people we love, going back to school, struggling to pay our bills, giving up our dreams, grieving, choosing to have a baby, struggling to get pregnant, moving to places where we don’t know a soul, leaving places and people we love, hearing bad news, receiving life altering diagnoses or prognoses and wondering, what is the point of it all?

We are taking risks and sometimes falling and standing again and trying.

We are flourishing.

We are saying yes to love, laughing with our heads thrown back and our mouths wide open, receiving touch and warmth and connection, dancing with our arms out and our hips swaying, making love and calling out our pleasure, loving our bodies and shaking off shame.

And sometimes we aren’t.

Sometimes our heart is breaking. Sometimes we are crying on the bathroom floor. Or sometimes we wish we could be crumpled on the bathroom floor, but there are mouths to feed or floors to wash or other tears that need to be dried. Sometimes we are stuck in shame, unable to be seen or see ourselves, wishing we could just disappear…sometimes forever.

Oh man, this stuff is hard.

Oh man, this life can be hard…and wonderful…and glorious…and hard.

Sometimes the joy is so big we feel guilty. Sometimes we worry that it will all be taken away…there is too much good and when other people are hurting it feels uncomfortable to have too much good. Sometimes we feel like we need to pay for the good or earn the good or even things out a bit. We worry we are undeserving…we don’t enjoy this moment because we think about how awful it will feel when it’s gone.

Living isn’t for the faint of heart.

But what are our choices?

We live and feel it all…the up the down…the high the low…the lovely the miserable…the ecstasy and the brutally hard –- or we shut down, we numb out, we self-medicate, we build walls, we close up, we push away, we turn inside out, we give up.

When you close to pain, you close to joy. When you numb the hurt you numb the bliss. When you avoid heartache, you avoid heart-opening.

It’s a bitter truth, eh?

You have a choice. Neither is easy. Life isn’t easy. And truly living isn’t for the faint of heart.

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