I waited to pee for 45 minutes this morning.
I was too busy dancing to stop.
This is nothing short of a miracle.
When I was…oh That Age, about sixth grade, I discovered that I couldn’t dance.
This was a wee bit of a surprise, seeing as how I’d been contra dancing since I was ten and could learn all the moves on my mom’s aerobics TV shows.
But that thing that people did when they went to school dances? It made me feel weird.
Much later I would discover that this was about improvisation + getting it wrong + being judged + feeling sexy when I moved + knowing that wasn’t something I wanted in public or at school, but at the time it was all I knew that I couldn’t dance.
And in fact, it stayed like that for a good long time. Twenty years. Twenty years of yes-I-can-learn-that-routine and of-course-I-can-contra but no-I-won’t-get-on-that-dance-floor.
Plus, the music was WAY too loud and it hurt my ears.
(There is NOTHING uncooler than insisting that you need earplugs to be in the same room as the speakers. Except sticking toilet paper in your ears because the teachers say you must be in the room with everyone else.)
Fast forward, fast forward.
It was 2009 when I finally really unravelled the mystery. I was at, of all things, a business conference, targeted mostly at women, in New York City. The incredibly unshy Marie Forleo had everyone UP and DANCING between every speaker. The vast majority (VAST) of the attendees were straight women, so that entire meat market feeling was missing.
And I danced.
Just for fun, no one watching, because the beat was good.
And the very old key turned in the very rusty lock, and I started to occupy my body in that particular way for the first time.
fast forward a few more years.
A friend says, “You really need to try contact improv.” And then she takes me there and yes, I really should have tried it about ten years ago, but I wasn’t ready.
And then I go home and contact improv is waiting there, waiting for me to find it, along with related dance experiences like Dance Sunday.
Which brings me to this morning, and needing to pee.
I was dancing at Dance Sunday, which is two hours of uninterrupted music during which you can dance in just about any way you choose, with others who are present or solo. I was mostly solo, and dropped right into the experience, the movement, the music, blissfully not thinking about anything, just present with the dance.
I noticed I had to pee, but didn’t want to stop–the greater pleasure will generally win–so I figured I’d wait until the music started to come down from the peak of the parabola.
It was 45 minutes, 45 more minutes of serious movement, partnered, alone, partnered, 45 minutes of being lost in the experience before something came on that broke my focus and I was willing to pause and go the bathroom.
This is what athletics feels like to me: not pressure to perform, not forcing myself to keep going keep going keep going, but a deep desire to do more of what is giving me such joy that I don’t want to interrupt it, not for anything, not even to pee.
Afterwards there was a picnic on the grass and lovely conversation and good company with some of the dancers.
And now I’m tired. And plotting to make dance clothes.
I am an athlete, and this is what it looks like when art meets sport.
When have you forgotten yourself in the movement?
Tweet it! #Iamanathlete to follow the conversation.
Years ago I knew a kid.
He was seven.
He was visiting me in the woods of Maine.
And he arrived, unpacked his portable Nintendo, and announced with great confidence, “I’m more of an indoor-type person.”
Indeed he was.
He spent the week with his Nintendo, camped out in the middle of my living room floor.
His sister and brother and mother and some other friends and I all spent a bunch of time tromping around the woods. But he was an indoor person, and indoors he mostly stayed.
He is, in fact, still an “indoor-type person”.
He is many other things as well.
But I have found that making declarations like that, for better and for worse, can be very powerful.
What have you declared yourself to be in your head? How often do you think or say, “I’m not that kind of person”?
Not the kind of person who makes friends easily or has that much money or is good at cooking or likes adventures or….
and what is so integrated in your identity that you’re sure nothing could root it out? Are you a geeky person or a beautiful person or a creative person or a disorganized person or…?
Our earliest en-title-ments come from our families and our peers.
Are you a bookworm? An athlete?
Who said so?
Who said not?
What would you like to be?
Once upon a time there was a magician who appeared to (you) and promised you could be anything you wanted. Which titles would you pick out of the hat if you had it to do over again right now?
Why not pick them?
I’m running an experiement right now. I’m claiming “athlete”. I am an athlete.
Because I like to move my body, I’m an athlete.
Because I like to stretch my phyiscal abilities I’m an athlete.
I am an athlete.
What are you?
(and are you an athlete? Tell us on Twitter! #Iamanathlete)
If I am an athlete, I eat to feed the body I enjoy moving. I eat like an athlete, wisely and with confidence. I might have a restricted diet or I might not.
If I am an athlete, I like to move! I move every day some. I make time for it.
If I am an athlete, I wear clothes that fit, that move with me, that stay on. I don’t have time for pants that fall off when I bounce!
If I am an athlete, I need good, sound, solid sleep. It’s okay to make that happen.
If I am an athlete, it is reasonable for me to spend money on appropriate gear and tools. That might be clothes, that might be equipment. I meet myself where I am, at this skill level, and expect that I will replace and upgrade when needed.
If I am an athlete, I may choose to train with someone. Having guidance as I train is smart.
If I am an athlete, I have every right to be in the gym, on the trail, in the pool, trying on running shoes. I can take up space. I do not need to shrink in the face of other people who are “real athletes” because I am, in fact, a real athlete
I am an athlete.
And you are, too. What’s true for you?
Join the conversation on Twitter! Hashtag #iamanathlete
I had a revelation recently. It’s late in coming, considering. But here it is: I am an athlete. No, really.
In my ecosystem this was simply impossible for the longest time. My father ran marathons. My best friend ran three seasons of track. People I knew belonged to football and softball and baseball teams. They liked screaming encouragement at their teammates from the sidelines and had other rituals that I couldn’t fathom, including caring who won the game.
And if that was athleticism, I wasn’t it.
It was only very recently that I finally figured it out: my longing to go kayaking more often, the way I get lost in the puzzle of rock climbing (even at a gym), that business of walking-forever-if-I-want-to, the immersion of hiking at my pace with my two feet, that’s athletic.
And I am an athlete.
I don’t have six-pack abs or a fat-free body. I don’t wear my ponytail pulled through the hole in the back of a baseball cap. I don’t spray my friends with Gatorade or talk smack or really care who wins the game. I don’t need to.
I like to move my body, this one right here. The one that confuses and perplexes and astonishes and annoys me. The one that dehydrates easily and isn’t as strong as I want it to be. The one that changes size and shape on a weekly basis The one that blessedly (touch wood) doesn’t give me lower back trouble and has always managed to survive whatever I asked it to do. The one that has walked all over everywhere.
This is my body. And I am an athlete.
Are you, too? Claim it right here in the comments or on Twitter with hashtag #Iamanathlete. Tell me about it. What makes you an athlete?
I was talking with my amazing friend Devon Clement today (about business and life) and she said, “Wait, working with you will make me want to exercise? Where do I sign up?” And I laughed.
Because, yeah, it will.
And then she asked,
“So I’ve always wondered: I have these two friends who love to exercise–they run, they walk, the first thing they want to do on a nice day is go for a bike ride. They have amazing orgasms at the drop of a hat, too…are those two things related?”
And I said,
Exercise and good sex (and orgasms) are (often) related for a few different reasons.
1) When you exercise, you kick off all kinds of happy brain chemicals. Those chemicals fight depression and anxiety and make you happier. Even the Mayo Clinic has information on it. In fact, recent research shows that exercise may be as effective as antidepressants for a large number of people. (Your mileage may vary, I’m not a doctor. PLEASE don’t change anything about your treatment regimen unless you and your health care professionals have figured it out.) That brain chemistry is ALSO the brain chemistry that sets the stage for good sex, good connection, and good orgasms. Which, coincidentally, strengthens your resistance to depression…it’s a beautiful cycle of natural chemical yay.
2) When you exercise, you have two options: you can ignore your body (NO PAIN NO GAIN) or you can pay attention to it (Wow, that’s painful. Maybe I should adjust my stride or my posture.) As you pay attention to it more, you are practicing occupying your body. Think about putting on socks. Usually you put them on in the morning and then you don’t even feel them during the day. You need your brain for other things. But when you’re exercising, it’s you and your body, present, together. If something feels off-kilter, imbalanced, or badly adjusted, you can notice and fix it. If you can’t fix it, you can change activities. The more you pay attention to your body, the better you get at paying attention to your body (yay, practice!) and that attention will gradually teach you what it feels like to exist, what it feels like to be in your body. When you’re accustomed to feeling your body all the time, then you start to notice the tiny cues that lead to feeling sexy. You notice all the times during the day when you feel good, and you pay attention to them. Paying attention creates a kind of bookmark in your brain, so your brain can remember and get back to that feeling more easily. Eventually, you can choose to walk around almost all the time (unless something terrible is happening) with just a little bit of a turn-on. And feeling the sensations in your body more makes you a better lover for yourself and more receptive and aware of the awesome feelings that come from someone else touching you. That heightened awareness then becomes instinctive, freeing your conscious mind for making love to a partner.
3) Which brings us to the third thing. When you’re exercising regularly, you tend to feel better about and in your body. Your body is likely to be stronger and happier to do what you ask without protesting. You may or may not get more positive messages from the culture and people around you, but you will feel the difference. You will feel better, which means that your body will be a less uncomfortable place to be, which means you will be more willing to feel the sensations it’s sending you.
And now a final note: I used the word exercise here, because that’s what most of us recognize. But the fact of the matter is that we are born to move. Watch any 5 year old left to their own devices and you’ll see a kid who runs and wiggles and squirms and climbs and plays as much as possible, and only sits down when they’re exhausted. Until we are taught to sit still for the good of the classroom or the dinner table, we’re pretty much always on the go. We’re built to play, and our bodies are pretty good at it. If you allow your body to move the way it wants to, when it wants to, you’ll probably discover how much more active you are than you think. But to feel the fidgets that you’ve been taught to repress all your life, you have to feel what it’s like to be in your body. You have to know when that discomfort isn’t about needing to re-cross your legs but is instead about needing to do the Hokey Pokey or run around the block. So if you’re not sure where to start with “exercise” or if you hate “exercise”, drop “exercise” and think of it as movement or as play. Let yourself play. Sprint for ten seconds, then walk, panting, then sprint, then do a handstand (against a wall if you need to!) and then notice that you’re upside-down and wonder how many pushups you can do that way. Try it. Fall back to your feet. Dance like a little kid who barely knows how to stand up. Dance with no music. Wiggle your butt. Fall on your ass. Laugh like crazy. Go rock climbing. Go swimming and do a cannonball. Movement is fun. Movement is play. Give yourself permission to follow your body wherever it leads, and go there with both feet.
So the summary:
- Exercise = movement = play
- Exercise (play)–>better brain chemistry–>better sex.
- Exercise (play)–>more consistent and better body awareness–>better sex
- Exercise (play)–>feeling better in your body and having a better relationship with your body–>better sex
Go play! And have better sex. What have you got to lose?
Darlings, it’s here!
And I am bouncing off the walls.
I don’t know about you, but I have a lot more ideas than I ever see to completion. In programming this is called an iterative process–you make a rough something, get it out there as fast as possible, see how it does, make changes, repeat.
A lot of my ideas never get past the idea stage, or past the first page of notes.
This one, however, was different.
Partially because it has a particular motivation.
Partially because it was requested by a specific group of people.
Partially because I got someone else involved. (and Katie is an AMAZING illustrator with a whole slew of credits to her name. If you don’t know her work, you should.)
And partially because it was self-motivating. The more it moved, the more it moved, which is incredible when it happens, and rare.
And here’s the result: an educational poster like you have never seen one before.
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
Eat your fill–
Read until you are not satisfied, but
panting, open, wild.
–from the first pages of Read This Book Naked
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.
…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,
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
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,
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.
email me and tell me what you love about this idea to register: firstname.lastname@example.org