Leela

Read This Book Naked

Posted on October 5, 2013 by

Read this book naked.

Print it on thick paper,

creamy and tempting.

Pour out fresh cream, strawberries,

plate warm bread, drizzle honey

to sop up the juices.

Feel your mouth water.

Wear nothing except the sun on your winter-hungry skin

or your lover’s taste still

ripe on your tongue.

Bite.  Drool red and white,

wipe your chin with your fingers and lick them

clean.

Eat your fill–

Read until you are not satisfied, but

panting, open, wild.

Begin there.

Just begin.

 

–from the first pages of Read This Book Naked

book

Posted on October 5, 2013 by

apparently I am writing a book.

It may involve things that I have already written here and elsewhere.

It may involve pieces of sermons.

It already has a title.

This is both awesome and terrifying.

But it feels right.  In my bones.

your body is talking.

Posted on September 18, 2013 by

…actually, your body is probably shouting.

And if you are like most of us, you are ignoring it.

It is saying, “I’m tired, I’m hungry, I’m happy, I’m sad, you would feel so much better if you didn’t apply for that promotion.”

 

It is saying,

move me

touch me

stretch me

 

It is saying,

let me sleep

 

It is saying,

call your daughter.

 

Time to start listening.  Time to unlearn a lifetime of ignoring your best wisdom.

This is the heart of my work.

This is the heart of your change.

Come to Berkeley for a day of experimenting and exploring and play. Try it out!

 

register here: http://bodyofpleasure.com/intro-workshop

sink into pleasure

Posted on August 26, 2013 by

pleasure is like a hot bath,

a perfect dessert,

a sweet summer night thick with jasmine and orange blossoms.

it takes time and openness to work its magic

and you need to be immersed, surrounded,

until the inescapable persistence of it surpasses suffocation and tips over into the complete experience,

and the deep-down knowing that this

is how you were meant to be,

this is how it was meant to feel,

every inch of your skin a living tribute to sensation,

so glad you are alive that you could cry.

 

It is a long way from where most of us spend our days.

 

And so I’m taking twelve people on a journey back into themselves.

For three nights and four days,

we’ll swim in the pool of yes.

Four days of bodywork,

four days of delicious food, prepared for us.

Four days of hot tub and gentleness,

of spaciousness and sweet conversation,

four days of feeling like feeling your body might in fact not hurt.

It might feel awesome.

 

Because when you do this work, usually,

you start to sink into your body and then you realize how much hurting

and tension and fear and ache and exhaustion you’ve been holding.

You start to sink in and then you feel like you’re going to burn  your fingers on the hot stove of your fatigue and the burning-the-candle-at-both-ends solar plexus.

You start to sink in and then you recoil from what that feels like.

So I’m setting the stage, your stage, with bodywork and delicious food,

with a long night’s rest and a soak in the hot tub,

with sweet and beautiful people.

So when you wake and consult your body,

it says,

YUM.

It says,

YES PLEASE.

It says,

Ahhhhh.

Come with me to the Berkshires for a gorgeous, cozy, luxurious retreat.  Four days and three nights in mid-November: the 14th-17th.  Be rested.  Be restored.  Be loved.  Be renewed.  Bodywork every day.  Meals and lodging included.  Come and be delighted.

$1200

email me and tell me what you love about this idea to register: leela@bodyofpleasure.com

reclaiming pleasure

Posted on July 10, 2013 by

This is my word. It is your word, too. This is the word that means yes that means joy that means ahhhh
This is the word that means right
This is the word that means the place inside
Where you go to figure out what is being left behind
And whether that is actually a problem
This is the word that means grass underfoot
Trees in the forest
Laughter with your lover
Laughter with a baby
Deep sleep after a long day.
This is the word
That means knowing your work
Is a job well done.
This is the word that means arms thrown wide
Sprinting heedlessly toward the cool surf
And this is the word
That means fire and kitten and book
While the storm rages
Somewhere else
This is the word that holds making love and making cookies in the same breath
This is the word that means knowing you are safe, you are right with the world, you belong
This is the word that means home
This is the word that means god.
Do not let the people say in your ear
That pleasure is only for the weak
The corrupt
The indiscriminate
Or the horny.
They do not know
They have forgotten.
This is the word that speaks from the core of your heart
To answer the longing of the world
With your voice.
And you know.
And you will not forget.
This is the beginning.
And this is the word
This is the word
this is the word.

eating cookies

Posted on June 12, 2013 by

Whenever I talk about pleasure as the fundamental compass for decisionmaking, someone tells me that it doesn’t work.

“…because if I just ate whatever I wanted I would eat a whole bag of cookies and that isn’t good for me.”

True.

It isn’t.

But I don’t think your body ACTUALLY wants the whole bag of cookies.  Or chips.

When you eat the first bite of the first cookie, you get a pleasure hit.

When you eat the first bite of the second cookie, you might still get  a pleasure hit.

But somewhere around the third cookie, you’re not getting the same body sensation that you were getting at the beginning.  The “pleasure” such as it is has moved from your body to your brain, which is telling you that you SHOULD be feeling pleasure because, hello, COOKIE!

Your body, however, is probably feeling a little maladjusted, a little off-kilter, a little done with the whole cookie thing.

If you practice paying attention to your body, you will notice when that happens, and you can stop.  Or, you know, you can ignore it.  You can choose.  And once you know what you’re choosing, you can’t un-know it.  That avoidance doesn’t work anymore.  Eventually, mostly, you will make a different choice, and if you don’t, you’ll know to ask why.

It can change everything.

begin somewhere

Posted on May 11, 2013 by

What do you do when you don’t know what to do?

I have a rather unusual weekend before me: nearly completely unscheduled.  And I don’t know what to do with it.

Ironically, just recently someone I know on Facebook posted that they had an unplanned day and were at loose ends.  The question that rose to the surface before I could even think about it was, “What would please you?”

She said, predictably, that she didn’t know.

Indeed.

I don’t know, either.  And it’s usually my job to ask those questions.  But faced with the actual reality myself, I have maybe a 50% success rate at asking and answering the question and then doing the thing.  All too often I spend my extra hours or days or weekends refreshing social media, sleeping, eating when I’m not hungry, or staring at the ceiling.

Two things:

First of all, if you spend most of your time sprinting from task to task, it actually takes time to downshift.  The staring at the ceiling part is important.  It’s part of the process.  You need the break from doing anything, even something you might enjoy.  Think of it like unschooling for the entrepreneur.  It takes practice and even discipline not to pop up or flip open the computer to “just see” something.  Don’t. Do. It.  Let your brain unwind.  There’s good stuff in there, caught up in the constant spinning.

Secondly, if you’re feeling a little tired (or a lot) or a little down (or a lot) it can be forty times harder to answer the pleasure question.  Make your lens really, really small.  Stop trying to find The Big Pleasure Thing (YAY I WILL HAVE HOT MONKEY SEX ALL AFTERNOON AND THEN EAT A SUNDAE! –wait, that sounds like a lot of work, maybe I will just check Facebook again) and let even the tiniest little whisper of pleasure be the place you start.  (That wild violet:  I want to put it in a bud vase on the kitchen windowsill.  The house is chilled.  I will turn up the heat.  I will have a mug of my favorite tea.  I will wear my happy socks.)  Pleasure doesn’t have to start (or even become) huge.  But the wiring of your brain (for reals, they have studies) gets into recursive loops.  The more it does x the more of x it will do.  So anything you can do to shift the loop will help.  Anything.  Tiny square of dark chocolate.  Funny cat videos on YouTube.  Using the good smelling soap.

Let “What would please you?” become, “What is pleasing you right now? (and how can you do a little more of that?)”

Anything is everything when it is the beginning of something.  And when it is the beginning of pleasure, so much more true.

Begin somewhere.

Just begin.

 

value yourself

Posted on May 1, 2013 by

It’s a strange thing to move from the nonprofit to the entrepreneurial world.  Strange as in disorienting and destabilizing and ultimately, liberating.

 

Yeah, liberating.

 

Because in a nonprofit (most nonprofits: there are, as always, exceptions) there are so very many lids on the possibilities.  Decisionmaking is rarely streamlined or fast or nimble; passion matters more than practicality.  But more than that, money runs the show.

 

It’s ironic, because money is supposed to be outside the issue for a nonprofit.  Money is supposed to be beside the point.  But precisely because it isn’t supposed to matter, it matters more than anything.

 

Try to have a new idea in a nonprofit.  Want to see how long it takes before someone wants to know what it will cost and where the funding will come from?  Use a stopwatch.  For that matter, watch yourself try to have a new idea.  How long before YOU ask where the money is coming from?

 

Drilling even further into the massive dirty laundry pile that is finances without money, take a look at rates of pay.  There is an assumption that persons working for a nonprofit should expect to be paid less than their for-profit peers.

 

This is absurd.

 

Equal work for equal pay: across gender lines, across age lines, and across institutional lines.  A nonprofit is nonprofit because it doesn’t make money for owners or shareholders, but not because it doesn’t pay its people.  Unfortunately, this is what we as a culture have come to expect.

 

We criticize endlessly if people get paid at nonprofits.  We complain about EDs who get CEO-like-salaries.  Why?  Do we not want to compensate talent and skill when it is working for the common good?  Should it only be profitable to be brilliant if you work for a soul-sucking megacorporation?  Is there something morally wrong with having a good income?

 

We love that these groups exist to do the work and organizing that we don’t have the time, energy, or skill to do, but we don’t want to actually pay someone to do it. And then we wonder why those groups are struggling to change the world.

 

When we focus the conversation on how terrible it is for them to spend money on things they find important, we are completely undermining their work and diverting their limited energy, time, and resources from the work we want them to do to arguing with us.

 

And if any institution has a massive gap between the highest and lowest paid employee, perhaps the question is why are the people at the bottom of that scale paid so LITTLE, not why the CEO is paid so much.  Let’s adjust the scale UPWARD until it makes sense.

 

There is a third, insidious effect to this undervaluing of humans.  It creates an entire culture where shoestrings are virtuous and sufficiency is considered luxury.  It creates and supports a culture where struggle is deified, turned into some kind of god for which we must strive.  And it means that we have no idea what our skills are worth in the rest of the world, or what it might be fair to be paid.  The nonprofit world creates an insular subculture where valuing the self at a reasonable market rate is considered uppity and unreasonable.  In a perennial culture of scarcity, no one wants to look up from the microcosm to find out that their rates and expectations are twenty or thirty years behind.  So instead they put intense social pressure on everyone inside the container to stay the hell down.

 

and the people all said sit down! Sit down you’re rockin’ the boat. –Guys and Dolls

 

Minimum wage in Australia is $22/hr.

 

Twenty-two dollars.  AND they have health care.

 

So when I say that my educated, skilled, practiced time is worth five times that, I’m not crazy.  And in the world of entrepreneurs, indeed I am not.  Consulting and presentation and workshop rates reflect that.  They reflect that rate for the hours on the stage and the hours backstage, traveling, getting ready.  They reflect the risk that we take on as entrepreneurs, the money we invest up front, the cancellations, the technical work, the marketing, the infrastructure that makes it possible for us to be hired.  They reflect the actual cost of business.  They reflect what it costs to do it well and have everyone feel good about it.

 

But if you start from a nonprofit where getting paid $10/hr seems like a huge upgrade from minimum wage (and you should be grateful!) or where your senior leadership is paid under $50,000/year, it is hard to even THINK numbers that big.

 

It is like speaking a language where there is no word for grass and then starting a lawncare business.

 

It requires years of rethinking to formulate a vocabulary which includes those possibilities.  It is a major internal cultural shift to value yourself well.  And if you continue to keep company with those who have a different sense of the financial value of a person, it is even harder.

 

This is not about being ungrateful.  This is about knowing your worth.

Because when you are paid well, you have mental and emotional space to do what you are here to do, which is not worry about money.  You release stress and pain.  You take on pleasure as your compass.  You make better decisions.

Because you–and the world–are worth it.

Teleclasses

Posted on April 22, 2013 by

This is the teleclass archive, where any teleclass I deem worthy of posting will be made available.  I’m still kind of new to the teleclass format, so sometimes I may record a class and then decide that I don’t want to make it public.  If, however, you were ON the class and you want a copy, please let me know and I will either make an exception or tell you politely that I never want anyone to hear it again. 🙂

 

This is the Know Your Body, Know Your Mind class from April 22, 2013

knowbodyknowmind

true story

Posted on April 17, 2013 by

I never thought I could speak in public.  I hated speaking in public.  I was the epitome of shy kid: that speaking assignment in seventh grade where we had to get up in front of the class and talk for four minutes was awful.

(You know it was almost impossible when your seventh grade classmates who hate you applaud and cheer for you when you’re done.  Sympathy lives.)

I’ve been out of the pulpit for a while now.  But at my last settlement I spoke to seventy or eighty people every Sunday.  The position before that was two seatings of 400-500.

That’s not a typo.

And I loved it.

Yes of course, some of this is training and having something to say.

But the kick in the ass that got me from zero to basic presentation?

Sex.

Sexuality education.  No joke.

 

Let me tell you a story:  I’m in eighth grade.  Long hair pulled back in a braid.  Braces, I think.  Shy, shy, shy.  Big glasses.  Smart.  Depressed.  Withdrawn.  Two close friends and the rest of the world thinks I’m invisible.

Unitarian Universalist church had already started to save me.  I had more hope and connection in youth group, more interesting conversations, frankly, more fun there than anywhere else.

Then we started sex ed.  In church.  (PSA: They still do it.  Now it’s called OWL and every single kid should have the chance.  UUA and UCC churches offer it, but it’s also out there in some cities as an outreach program.)

So I’m sitting there with some kids I don’t know particularly well, and we’re going to spend a semester of church school talking about sex.  I’m well-read but intrigued.  And by the end of the semester I am thoroughly impressed.  We have practice, information, and training in how to be with sexuality, make our own decisions, talk about what we want and need, set boundaries and limits, understand and provide (or not) consent, PLUS all the plumbing and mechanics.  It is 1989.  We have talked about HIV/AIDS and about being gay/lesbian/bisexual and even touched on transgender identities.

For possibly the first time in my life, I am totally inspired.  I want to DO this.  I want to TEACH this.  I want to BE PART OF THIS BECAUSE HOLYSHIT IT CHANGED MY LIFE.  (I had no idea how much it had changed my life.)

And I resolved, then and there, to get trained to teach AYS when I was old enough to do so.

Meanwhile I ended up becoming the go-to information source in my high school.

And then I went to UU summer camp and decided I wanted a youth group that did conferences and stuff…but I was the only one with the information.  So I learned to lead.  Training, modeling, mentoring, fumbling, but I learned and was encouraged and learned and was encouraged…

and then I was old enough.  And I got trained.

And then when they updated the AYS program to OWL I got trained again.  By that time I was in seminary.

And then I learned to preach.  And the rest is kind of history.

But here’s the bottom line: if you want to break through an old limit, there is nothing (NOTHING) that beats passion for getting you there.  When I was talking about sex I wasn’t thinking about what people were thinking.  I was thinking, “Oh my god, you need this information.  You needed it last week.  And I’m the only one who can give it to you right now.  Listen up, this is important.”

What do only you have to give?  Give it.  The world needs it.  Right now.