Have you ever been working on a project and something just won’t click? You wrestle and struggle and beat your head against it and it comes out okay, and everyone says it’s fine, but it really hasn’t gelled yet?
And you know it’s in there and so you keep moving, keep going, keep writing and creating and talking to your people…
and then you go away and concentrate on something totally different.
And the answer comes.
The 30 Day Pleasure Project brings me so much joy. Every day, people join, get excited, get intrigued, get changed, get reminded of important things.
And I knew there was more, and so I began taking the material deeper. I started by thinking I was going to do video, and then maybe audio, and email…
but none of those media felt right.
And so I kept going and kept working and told you about the project, because it is awesome stuff; it changed my life. I want to share. I love the feedback I get from the 30 Day Pleasure Project–LOVE it. I know I’m headed in the right direction.
But even as I moved into the creation phase, something didn’t click.
And then I had to get ready because my parents were coming for a visit.
Go ahead, laugh, I know you’ve been there. Clean the house! Think about food! Be nervous! Run around and make sure everything is right! Well, okay, most of everything. Or perhaps just the everythings that are reasonable to change.
Total distraction. Immersion in tidying and dishes and menus and all the rest of it.
But I needed to launch. It was time. And the Lived Pleasure material was basically ready. So I launched.
My parents arrived last night. We had dinner. It was a success. No crisis, no disaster.
And this morning, I realized: the focus of the work is internal, but the magic happens in the interactions between people. This is about the creative interchange that Henry Nelson Wieman wrote about–that inexplicable inspiration that comes when authentic spirits come together.
And the light bulb clicked on.
And lots of things I did without knowing why suddenly made sense.
This course is not about the written word, although there will be reflective writings and there will be stuff you can do on your own.
This course is about the conversations.
Because laying foundations, transforming your way of being in the world, is, in fact, work best done in community. In connection. In challenge and grace and love and encouragement and curiosity. Especially curiosity.
Come, be part of the the curious. Make pleasure a place you live, and make it work in the real world, with real concerns and real life and real you. Sit with the paradoxes and among friends.
You get to do it the easy way.
I know it’s crazy, revolutionary, really even bizarre to think about it, but there is NOTHING wrong with doing things the easy way.
For example: I write. I write as part of my personal practice, and I write as part of my work. I write poems and newsletter articles and the occasional mini work of fiction. And yes, of course I have an idea for a book floating around in my head. I will write that, too…someday.
But writing is as integral to my life as breathing.
And sometimes, I’m completely stupid about it.
I’m a morning person. Six to ten AM are my peak hours. Best thoughts, most brilliant inspirations, sweetest energy and writing just flows. I can almost guarantee that it will be smooth as silk if it happens before nine.
After that? Not so much. Stops, starts, mechanical difficulties–much more like a rusty train on rusty tracks than a clear mountain spring after the first thaw.
So why would I write in the afternoons?
yeah. No good reason. It’s like choosing to drag a ten ton sled across rocky ground rather than putting it on wheels.
Charlie Gilkey talks about heatmapping your day; this is a similar idea. Do it when it’s easiest. But also, do it how it’s easiest. Instead of having a system and forcing yourself to fit into it, have a YOU and build a system around it.
Learning to do this is a process of undoing a lifetime’s worth of learning. If you went to school and if you work for someone else, huge parts of your life have been built around fitting you into someone else’s system. In the homeschooling community they talk about “deschooling” — basically, learning to think outside the box of “school” and “education” so you can actually create your own optimal education.
Creating your own optimal life can be much the same.
For example, laundry.
Perhaps you have a laundry system that works. YAY!
But if you’re like me, there are places in the house where you’re always picking up dirty clothes after the fact and putting them in hampers. In my old house, it was the living room. Because of the house’s configuration, the washing machine, the living room, and the bathroom were all right next to each other. In the winter, the woodstove made it much nicer to undress in the living room (the bathroom floor was cold). Ergo, pile of clothes in the living room.
Then the laundry would get piled in the living room (right in front of the washing machine).
I had this big story that the laundry had to be in the bathroom.
And finally I figured it out: covered hampers in the living room. What I needed was hampers that looked good enough to be in the living room. Problem solved.
Ease is not ignoring things. Ease is this: don’t try to fight what happens. Just change the system so it works.
Which systems will you change to make your life easier? Tell me in the comments.
Motion should feel good.
I think we forget. I know I forget.
It’s complicated, after all. Most people I know do workouts. Do you ever do a playout? The closest we get is sports:
What are you doing for your workout today?
Oh, I’m going to play a game of tennis.
I’ve got a friend who just arrived in Australia for a year. She rows, so she signed on with a crew team. That is awesome. She loves to row. So pleasure+movement=yay.
She had to start somewhere. She started rowing when she was 30. But she has a long relationship with sports, and she knows she likes them.
Me, I’m competition-resistant. In fact, I think I’m allergic. I just don’t want to win badly enough to make it a motivator.
For years, I thought that meant I wasn’t an athlete. Athletes were Other People. And I wasn’t particularly graceful, so dancers were Other People, too. In fact, motion was for Other People. End of story.
Except, you know, not.
The story didn’t end there because there’s something else that motivates me.
Pleasure. (come on, you knew it was coming.)
Pleasure motivates me. A lot. And there are all kinds of ways that pleasure interacts with bodies in motion. Sex, of course. Touch, more broadly. My world cracked open the day I discovered hugs. Puppy piles at camp, at church, at drama club saved my life.
But I still didn’t think I was into athletics or exercise.
Then I discovered rock climbing. It’s a kinesthetic puzzle–a brain-bender in motion.
And contra dancing. And swing dancing. And tai chi chuan. Cross-country skiing. Hiking. Kayaking. Horseback riding.
It’s not that I don’t like using my body. It’s that I don’t like being bored. When I’m enjoying myself, I will push my body harder than I ever would at a gym.
I like to play. I just don’t like competition.
And then one day last spring, I wrote myself a big fat permission slip to play some more. I was living in Portugal. Walking a lot. Walking everywhere. Splashing in the surf. Getting daily exercise that wasn’t working out. And I had started having urges to run–you know, the way kids do when they’re four and sprinting circles around the living room?
So I gave myself permission to just run. Until it felt icky. And then stop. No rules about getting to this many minutes or that milepost, just, you know, for the pleasure of running.
And so I ran.
Unbelievable. Totally different from all my previous experiences of running, because it wasn’t about ignoring my body, it was about listening to it. Go when it feels good. Stop when it doesn’t.
What kinds of motion give you pleasure?
Your body will tell you what it needs. It’s talking right now.
To practice listening, join the 30 Days, 30 Things project.
Want to continue the conversation? Sign up here to stay in touch.
it feels like you are Persephone,
always refusing my offers of food and wine,
playing by some other rules.
Myself, I am a
I mean what I say
and offer only
what I mean to freely give.
You are a mystery to me.
I see your longing
you say no.
I want to say,
What harm will come?
I want to say,
if not twelve then six,
if not six
at least a tropical three,
a little respite
from your Puritan jaw.
But who am I
to know better?
Who am I
to name the glint and shimmer
in your eye?
Your voice matters.
A few days ago I published a response to the Naomi-and-Dave death threats. Word got out. Some people like it and shared it. People came and read it. And I’m so glad.
Usually, I’m an introvert. In fact, I’m always an introvert.
But I don’t always act like one. There are two kinds of silence: listening silence and invisibility silence. There’s a difference beween allowing myself to be in the background because I’m paying attention and forcing myself to stay quiet despite myself. Invisibility is fatal.
So I spoke up.
There’s more, though.
Voice holds space.
Your voice is part of you. It’s part of your body, it’s part of your spirit, it’s part of your presence in the world. Not just the words you say, but the actual apparatus with which you say them. Your soundmaking devices matter. Feeling them work matters. Playing with them matters.
There’s a reason singing has lasted so long as an art.
There’s a reason you sing in the shower.
There’s a reason you have a voice.
When you use your voice, you create vibration. You create resonance. You tap into the amplification and echo chambers in your head and chest to create an invisible force.
I know, it sounds like a Marvel comic. There’s a little magic in it–really.
Hum. If you don’t know how to start and you’re familiar with the syllable om, start with that. Play with the feelings in your head. Notice the way it feels under your cheekbones, on your lips, in your throat. Can you feel it in your chest? Try opening and closing your mouth. Smile or laugh while you hum.
Notice what happens if you get sad.
Your throat might close off. The sound might stop. If not, keep making sound and notice how it changes. If it does stop, consider this:
Sound is an outlet, a way of being present, a way to exist. Often (not always) grief comes up as part of a story that we’re not supposed to exist.
Making sound, being aurally present, is a way to un-tell that story. It’s a way to choose to make another path.
Voice, feeling your voice, touching your voice, knowing your voice, using your voice is about presence and power and joy.
Open your throat. The world is listening.
It is not only humans who have ears.
because holy shit people, I am speechless. I shouldn’t be. I’m a trained minister. I’ve seen the good, the bad, and the ugly when it comes to religion. And I’m a trained tech geek. I’ve been around a few internet blocks.
But dear god in heaven. I’m also furious.
**note: this is not my usual stuff. This is more like current events commentary, and it will likely make you mad. So if stories about death threats, misogyny, and internet bullying are not your cuppa joe, give this one a pass and I’ll be back to my usual stuff soon.**
Here’s the link: http://ittybiz.com/death-threats-online/
and here’s the next link: http://ittybiz.com/sometimes-the-bad-guys-win/
and here’s the summary, if you’re not going to go read them:
Naomi Dunford, rockin’ awesome self-made marketing coach/guru/straight shooter, is friends with Dave Navarro, aka The Launch Coach.
Dave’s stuff isn’t quite my style, but that’s not his fault, and if I sat down and followed the impressively clear step by step do-this-do-that directions he gives, I, too, could probably launch the **** out of just about anything, even a rotten tomato in a paper sock.
But I digress. Dave and Naomi are both outstanding at what they do, and they both do internet marketing. They are also friends, and sometimes-business-partners.
And Dave is getting divorced. That’s his business.
But his brother and his brother’s ideas about Christianity think that’s also their business, and his brother has threatened to kill him if he goes through with the divorce. Because killing people is WAY more Christian than quietly leaving the room.
And his brother has harnessed the awesome power of the internet to determine (a) that Naomi and Dave are having an affair and (b) they and their businesses should be killed off.
That’s right, I said they AND their businesses.
There are no words for how angry this makes me.
Oh, and there’s precedent. Dave’s father killed Dave’s mother when she left him, back in the mid-80’s.
Let’s review, shall we? Ten commandments, right? Hmmm…no gods before me, no idols, no swearing, take a day off and make it sacred, oh here it is:
Thou shalt not kill.
Right there in the middle between “honor thy father and mother” and “thou shall not commit adultery” (the one that Dave’s brother thinks he’s violating).
Could it be any plainer?
I believe….no, what I believe is going to put us way off track. Let’s take on the operating faith system here. Within Christianity, in the holy text, in very plain writing, not disputed by any scholars that I know of: no killing.
Oh, and look down there at number 9: no false witness. That means you don’t say things about someone else that aren’t true.
Hypocrisy ain’t pretty, folks.
I don’t say things like this in public very often, because for the most part I respect peoples’ rights to their own faith and belief systems. But where someone’s faith interferes with someone’s human rights, I draw the line. It’s things like this that give religion a bad name.
I don’t know if that’s all I’ll say on the subject. It’s all I’ll say today.
So what can we do? Write about it. Talk about it. Refuse to be cowed into silence. Tell the world. Do something awesome. Do something awesome in the name of women, in the name of religion, in the name of basic human decency. Act. Stand up. Be counted.
Spread the word.
PS: the other thing you can do? If you like Dave and his stuff, or Naomi and her stuff, there’s never been a better time to buy it for yourself, give it as gifts, and promote the hell out of their work.
because it’s about ease
the more you think about it
the harder it becomes
and if you have to force it
you’re probably doing it wrong
or at least there is probably an alternative
that requires less force.
We know this
from watching people kick tires and
we know this from
feeling our muscles cry out
when we forget to shift our weight
when we lash out in anger
when we hold on too tight.
We know this.
We know that pleasure and ease
are indicators of health.
We know that when the car doesn’t creak or groan
it is well-tended
We know that we are not machines
but we are like machines;
that we need oil and gentle manuvers
and not so much of the kicking and swearing
that so often rides around in our heads
like luggage strapped awkwardly to the top
of an overfull station wagon
bound for the other coast.
that water seeks the easiest path
that air takes the path of least resistance
that children will run everywhere
but adults will wear a rut in the gentlest route;
we know that we are wired for efficiency
that ease and efficiency are two faces of one thing
coming and going.
We know that pleasure and desire are two faces
of one thing:
receiving and wanting.
And we know
that if we take an extra moment
to look at the trees
we will find the most easeful path
and take it
without even trying.
Want an easy first step to shifting your relationship with your body? Sign up here for 30 days of tiny playdates with yourself.
if you’d like to listen, click here
Here’s what I believe:
it’s time for our bodies to belong to us.
It is time.
We have spent generations letting someone else have their way with our bodies. From “lie there and think of the Empire” to slavery to corsetry to virginity to working too hard for too long for too little, and even to substituting money for the things that we naturally value most: health, interconnection, joy, and pleasure, we have subordinated our bodies to someone else’s agenda for
WAY too long.
And it’s time to change.
This is about groundedness and power.
This is about strength.
This is about sovereignty of the most
This is about you and YOUR body.
Your right to your body.
Your right to your health.
Your right to life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness–all things, by the way, that are grounded in your body, not in your mind.
This is about the expression of the spirit that comes through the flesh and I tell you,
It is time.
It is time.
So where do we begin?
This is not a story that begins in one place with one thread and follows neatly through until you reach one conclusion.
No. this is about bodies. and bodies are complicated and lush and wonderful and much more interesting than that.
So we could begin here: with food.
we could begin here: with clothing.
we could begin here: with touch.
we could begin here: with sex.
But the questions are the same:
*do you like it?
*do you want it?
*and most important: who is in charge?
Because you DESERVE to be in charge of your own body. You deserve to make your own damn decisions about your own damn skin. This is yours. It was yours the day you were born and it will be yours until you relinquish it to the earth and sky and air and water from which you came. It is a tool, but it is also you, there is no separation between you and this stuff of you, this skin and bone and flesh and blood and no one should be making decisions that are not in your best interest.
Not even your mother’s ghost, may she rest in peace, or your best friend, or your third grade teacher–
and certainly CERTAINLY not a clothing designer who has never met you or an advertising firm that only cares about the bottom line or a community leader who lived and led five thousand years ago.
Certainly, absolutely not.
this is about you.
this is about getting you back in the driver’s seat.
because that is where you belong.
And here’s the secret:
when you are driving, and you are REALLY driving:
you will not drive yourself into a lake. You will not ignore that grinding noise. You will not close the windows and turn off the air conditioning when it’s hot and sunny. You won’t.
Unless you have a reason.
This is about knowing when the reasons are real,
And when they are inventions of a world that wants to be in control.
It’s a load of hooey. It’s bullshit.
So I’m calling bullshit.
This is about the power that comes
from knowing who you are
and what you want
and taking care of yourself
so you can be the shining essence of YOU
so you can bring YOUR gifts
so you can share YOUR brilliance
because that thing about oxygen masks
and putting yours on first?
It is true.
And in the rush to be overworked and overbusy and
Frighteningly overwhelmingly important,
That we do our best work from a place of clarity
That we are the best partner,
The best parent,
The best friend,
The best gift to the world
When we are first a gift
And we reach deep in the earth
And we connect
And we reach up to the sky
And we connect.
And between heaven and the soil beneath our feet
We shine with the light of a thousand suns.
When we are depressed
We stop wanting to do
The things that make us feel fabulous.
We lose touch with pleasure
And it becomes a cycle
That keeps us from joy.
But joy can also become a cycle
And breaking the loop
Breaking the loop the first time
And this is about revolution.
Knowing it, finding it, embracing it, honoring it—
Creativity and sex
Kick off the same hormonal cascade
Which is why excitement
Feel pretty much the same.
(It’s true: check in with yourself
The next time you do something awesome.
It feels like the end of a perfect first date.)
It boils down to this:
Your power to change the world
By being absolutely yourself
Has a wormhole,
A secret passage,
A hidden door.
And that hidden door
And THAT is why
Your pleasure matters.
It is time.
Your body belongs to you.
My body belongs to me.
This is how the world becomes a better place. By putting us back in charge.
One quick example:
How many people do you know who feel bad that they own more than one size of clothing?
Bodies change. It’s how they are. Cells die and are reborn, things grow, other things shrink, we adapt to whatever the external reality is. Hormones, stress, food, weather, economics–all impact our bodies.
Why do we think we should be the same shape all the time?
Because our clothes say so. Most of our clothes are cut and stitched so that they only fit properly if we’re a certain shape. We spend hours of our lives and thousands of dollars trying to find the perfect thing to fit our shape. We are invested in that shape the minute we start shopping for it. And then, you know, things happen. We change. And now we have to release whatever investment we built around the shape we were, and make a new investment in a new shape. All the time. Confusing! Frustrating! Disorienting!
Imagine if the clothes weren’t in charge.
Imagine if we were in charge.
Imagine a Star Trek-like world where we could simply ask the computer to make us a different set of clothes–ones that fit TODAY. And then the old ones would be recycled at the molecular level.
We actually do have a bit of a choice. In some places and times, people wear draped clothing. In other places and times, people wear very loose clothing. In other places and times people have used laces and buckles to adjust the clothing to fit their bodies.
Ironically, even corsets are laced into shape, because they have to fit perfectly, or they don’t work.
Imagine if your pants adjusted to you. All the time. Imagine.
Who would you be if your clothes always fit and looked fabulous no matter what you ate for dessert?
If the tape measure weren’t your gauge, how would you know if you were healthy?
When we know we are in charge, we pay more attention. We listen more closely. We ask more questions. We look at the long-term. We take more responsibility because we are in the position of adults, not being infantalized by an overbearing matrix of advertising and social pressures.
And when we are sovereign in our own bodies, when we know our bodies belong to us, the world changes one cell at a time.
We become firmer about important boundaries and more fluid about other things. We communicate better. We learn more. We have more grace and more peace and less stress.
The world is a different place.
You deserve to live in a body that belongs to you.
And it is time.
It IS time.
listen here: bodies manifesto
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