How one woman found yoga, eased her inner hunger, and started loving herself. Follow Kimber as she shares her journey to loving her body, the joys and sorrows of yoga teaching, and venturing into the wilderness of writing and publishing.

Friday, April 29, 2011

Love Your Body Blog Part 39: Mirror, Mirror, on the Wall, Who’s the Fairest of Them All?

Growing up in the Midwest, the notion was firmly inculcated into me that saying anything nice about yourself (i.e. I’m beautiful, I’m a good person, I have a great smile) demonstrated a conceitedness that would incontrovertibly result in the sky opening up and God striking you down with his mighty lighting sword. Complimenting yourself, or even accepting a compliment, was therefore something to be avoided at all costs. You just didn’t do it. If you accidentally said something that smelled ever so slightly of hell-borne vanity, people would back away from you, shaking their heads and looking fearfully toward the heavens. It took me years to get out of this habit.

When women tell me they feel it’s self-indulgent and vain to devote time and energy to loving their bodies, I know what they mean.

In our culture it’s fine to openly criticize and make fun of yourself.

We’ll even pay to watch it; many a stand-up comedian has made their living off this goldmine of self-deprecation. And even movie stars, who are often famous because of their looks, are rarely quoted enjoying their bodies or appearance. Instead we’re treated to their latest commercial remedies for aging and their frustrations about their own bodies and self-image.

Remember the Queen in Snow White? She loved her body, right?

Well, she loved herself as long as she believed she was The Most Beautiful Woman in the World. And she was willing to poison her step-daughter, fling evil spells, and transform into a fire-spewing dragon to defend the title. Truly loving your body isn’t about seeing your body as better than anyone else’s. Or as worse. Loving your body is about seeing beauty in all bodies, as well as in your own.

By loving your own body, you help others see the good in their own bodies through the reflection of love and acceptance in your eyes.

Who do you know who loves their body? How are they in the world? Do they seem selfish and self-indulgent, or do they seem connected and loving? Loving your body isn’t about outer appearances, or falling in love with your own image in the reflecting pool like the Narcissus of ancient mythology. When you love your own body, you love it beyond its outer form of skin and face and dimples on your thighs; you love the life that moves through it, the support it gives you, and the wisdom and experience it shares with you. Loving your body means you see yourself and your body as worthy of love, and helps you see others as worthy of love as well.

You fill yourself with love and treat yourself as your best friend, and that love spills over into the rest of your life, offering more friendliness and love to all those your life touches.

Loving your body doesn’t make you selfish, in fact, it makes you more self-less. Taking good care of yourself, getting in your yoga practice or movement, eating well, sleeping enough, all of these things help you take care of the people who matter to you and even leave you with some energy left over to help them feel special and loved. When you are feeling depleted and unloved, it’s incredibly difficult to show affection and care for anyone else. Forgiveness and compassion arise easily when we’re feeling content and easeful with ourselves. When you feel loved, it’s natural to love the world.

Think about it, who would you rather hang out with: your friend who constantly makes mean jokes about her body and is unhappy and short-tempered, or your friend who seems comfortable and happy in her body and her life, and who accepts and loves you just the way you are? Which friend would you rather be?

Loving your body makes you a better friend and a better person. There’s only one way to find out if it works. Try it and see.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Love Your Body Blog Part 38: The Myth of the Unlovable Body

Do you believe that some bodies aren’t worthy of love? You know those headless photographs that the media uses to illustrate stories about the obesity scare? Maybe you have a body like that, or fear having a body like that. Maybe you wonder, if I love my body the way it is, doesn’t that mean I’m settling for bad health, unattractiveness, and low standards? If I love my body the way it is, I’ll never have the body I want.

Loving my body the way it is right now doesn’t mean it won’t change. My body has changed tremendously over the years… gotten stronger and more flexible from my yoga practice, more fluid and expressive through dancing. And I’ve gotten much better about reading its signals and figuring out what it needs to be happy. Also it’s gotten older. And although I don’t weigh myself (just yesterday at the doctor’s office as the nurse had me step on the scale, I told her “I don’t want to look and I don’t want to know”), I know my weight vacillates based on the season and whether I’ve been playing outside much.

Loving your body doesn’t mean giving up on yourself. It means giving up the war on yourself. You learn to listen to your body, and respond to its needs for food and exercise appropriately. Calling a truce with your body means slowly unraveling negative habits around food, such as overeating, undereating, eating unmindfully, and poor nourishment. Loving your body means discovering the types of exercise your body loves, and offering it those activities in doses it enjoys without overdoing. For some of us changing our relationship to our body in this way will mean we lose weight, while for others it might mean we gain weight. Either way, we can enjoy the discovery process of finding out what our body needs to feel healthy and happy, learning what food and exercise and what quantity of both help it thrive.

Loving my body the way it is has helped me want the body I love. Just like I wouldn’t feed my beloved dog garbage and poison, or let my eleven year old eat only Cheetos and Sour Patch Kids (much as he’s sure they comprise two of the four basic food groups along with pizza and ice cream), I show my body I love it by offering it delicious food and fun exercise. What’s amazing is that when you treat something carefully and give it your affectionate attention, you start to care about it, and see that it deserves your love. The more you love it, the more you want to love it, the more lovable it is.

As I’ve treated my body with love, my body has become beautiful to me. As a result I feel more beautiful and comfortable in my body, and other people see and respond to that confidence. Over the weekend I met some people at a party who looking at me couldn’t believe that I hadn’t always loved my body. As if I’d make it up! The truth is, not only did I not love my body, but I literally hated it to the extent of wishing I was dead. Ouch. It’s painful to say that now, but it shows the extreme one can start from and still make it all the way over to the other side of acceptance and love.

If I’m “obese”, is it okay for me to love my body too? (I won’t argue here with the term obese, but just know I think the whole BMI thing is a terrible plane crash no one ever found the black box for.) One thing we know, but have forgotten in the midst of our culture’s thinness obsession, is that weight is actually not a reliable indicator of health. A thin person can be terribly malnourished with arteries that would make a veteran cardiologist wince. A fat person can have beautifully clear arteries, excellent blood pressure, and healthy exercise and eating patterns. You don’t know by looking at someone’s appearance whether or not they are healthy. You have to look beyond the surface. Where have I heard that before?

The upshot is people can be healthy and be overweight. Take the 400 lb sumo wrestler who recently completed the LA marathon. I’m sorry, but for all my yoga practice and organic vegetables, that guy is in better shape than I am. He trains hard as a sumo wrestler. His exercise routine would kill me.

But Kimber, you say, what about people who are fat AND unhealthy? And I say, why focus on fat at all? Unhealthy bodies need love too, be they fat or thin. Do we tell cancer patients, “Your body is bad, unhealthy, and it’s your fault. You should punish your bad body for being sick.”? Nope. We tell them to treat their body with kindness and encourage them to take care of their body in every way possible to restore its health and vitality. Even dying and irreversibly broken bodies need love. But you don’t need me to tell you this. You know this already.

All bodies are worthy of love. No one’s body is unlovable or undeserving. No matter how fat, no matter how unhealthy. No matter how unattractive you might feel. Everyone’s body can be treated like the best friend it is. Even yours. Even mine.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Love Your Body Blog Part 37: Worship at Your Body’s Altar

Are you serious about wanting to learn to love your body? Are you committed to the process of becoming your own best friend? If the answer is “Oh yeah!” or even “Yeah, sorta, I think so,” I have a project to inspire your journey: make a Love Your Body altar.

What is an altar? It’s a sacred space in your home where you can honor and remind yourself of your inner path, and reconnect to what is truly important to you in life. When I was in Nepal last summer, we stayed in the homes of our Nepali friends. In every house we visited they had a “god room,” a separate room often designated solely for a family altar to the chosen deity, where prayers and offerings are made, and incense lit every day. Your home altar, on a window sill, a mantle, a shelf, or even in a cigar box, can be a lovely miniature version of a “god room,” honoring your ability to see the goddess (or god) in yourself.

Find a spot that won’t be disturbed too much by roommates or wandering kitties; if you have outdoor space, you could even set it up on a small table in the garden. Gather items that inspire you to love your body, or remind you of those people or things who support your growing friendship with yourself.

Making my own Love Your Body altar was a moving experience of collecting objects and inspiration from all over my house and inviting them to meet each other and be the guests of honor at a quiet party. In my yoga room, there’s a basic altar on a side table that I enjoy and play with the elements of sometimes, so all I had to do was clear it and rearrange and add items with the intention of honoring my body’s journey.

Here are the basic elements:

1. A scarf and candle holder in one of my favorite colors, indigo-violet, set the stage and create a visual center. I love indigo-violet… it’s the color I see when I close my eyes and invoke loving myself and the world. I think of it as the color I am inside.

2. Three photographs… one of my Buddhist teacher, Pema Chodron, who has taught me so much about lovingkindness, compassion, and fearlessness… one of a sculpture that reminds me of how my partner’s love has healed my relationship with my body…. And the last is me, in Baby Dancer pose, in front of the roots of a giant sequoia in Yosemite around the time I was first figuring out how to love my body.

3. Flowers from my garden, that remind me of my body’s connection to the earth and natural beauty.

4. A stone from the creek by Full Belly Farm, whose organic vegetables and marvelous farmer/friends have nourished my body and soul for many years.

5. A heart shaped mirror that was a gift from Anusara Yoga founder John Friend, and a sculpture of a woman doing yoga that was a gift from my teacher Katchie. Both remind me what an important role yoga and my teachers have had in learning to love my body.

6. A ceramic goddess incense burner with wide hips that I made years ago. She holds a “galaxy stone” in her lap… the whole universe within her embrace.

7. A Kwan Yin statue (she’s the goddess of compassion), and next to her (you can’t see it in the photo) a tiny statue of Saraswati, the goddess of wisdom. Learning to love my body has required a tremendous amount of both compassion and wisdom; they inspire me to look for these qualities both in the world and in myself to support my path.

8. A swirled purple and green hunger goddess I made from my son’s art clay. She represents the feeling of insatiable hunger that plagued me for many years. I made her at the height of my frustration over my hunger, and have been offering her gifts ever since, even as her demands gradually diminished. She holds a love charm, a goddess charm, a pendant from my mother of a Navaho mother holding her baby, and an Ohm charm and Buddha charm gifted to me by dear students. My hunger still likes to be honored.

9. Hanging against the scarf is the flying purple goddess who usually hangs in my bathroom. Her big hips and tiny breasts remind me to see my body as beautiful just the way it is.

10. Finally, two inspirational wisdom cards from Louise Hays. One says: “I fill myself with love, and I send that love out into the world. How others treat me is their path; how I react is mine.” The other: “I am in the process of becoming my own best friend—the person I am most joyous to be with.”

Take your time getting together your own objects and inspiration. You don’t have to do it all in one sitting. Let it grow and change over time. Once you have your altar set up, step back and admire it. What now?

Honor your altar by practicing yoga in front of it, meditating on it, or saying a prayer before it. You could bow to it and make offerings of fruit or chocolate. My hunger goddess loves offerings of chocolate. You could sing to it, say a mantra or dance before it, or invite friends over to share with them the significance of the objects and your journey.

Let your Love Your Body altar inspire and support you on your journey of becoming your own best friend.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Love Your Body Blog Part 36: Shopping for a new body. Are you selling?

Today I’m headed down the rabbit hole. Are you coming?

Imagine…You wake up one morning and stretch, bemoaning the little aches that seem to have taken up residence overnight.

As you brush your teeth and frown into the mirror, you think, “I’m sick of this body. I’ll stop by the store today and get a new one.”

You drive up to the Body Store, and look in the front windows. Oooh. That one’s nice. And that one might be fun. You hurry through the doors.

Once inside you think, “Well, I definitely want thinner. And maybe stronger, too.” So you go to the size zero aisle and start to peruse the bodies there. “Maybe it is possible to be too thin,” you wonder to yourself. You’re not sure some of those bodies could support your busy life. You go up a few sizes, and take a couple of bodies into the dressing room to try on. They’re okay, but not quite what you were thinking.

You look through the store, trying on some bodies you never imagined possible. You like the arms on this one, and the thighs on this other one. This one has a nice belly, but you’re not so crazy about its proportions. This other one is hot, but it says right on the label that to maintain it you have to give up your job, renounce every type of food you like, and, weirdly, sacrifice the entirety of your self-esteem. Plus it says in big black letters, “Not guaranteed beyond warranty date.” You check the warranty date. Your eyes widen. It’s today. You put it back on the rack.

By the end, you’ve got two bodies that you kind of like, that you’re thinking about taking home with you. But you can only choose one. And you realize that if you take home one of these new bodies, you’ll have to leave yours there, at the store, for someone else to take home if they want. You’ll give up the little scar on your arm from the time you and your brother tried to invent a recipe for balloon cookies. And never again will you appreciate the hands that remind you of your mom.

You’ll give up your dad’s eyes, your grandma’s feet, and the strong shoulders that Uncle Tim says were inherited from the guys who painted the roof of the Sistine Chapel.

While you’re trying to decide which body to choose, there’s a knock at the dressing room door. “Hey, are you done in there?” you hear a woman’s voice through the door.

“Yeah, just a couple more minutes.”

“’Cause if you’re going to take one of those other bodies, can you hand me yours? I’d be happy to take it if you don’t want it.”

What?! As you wandered around the store, someone who came in looking for a body was eyeing yours the whole time? She was stalking you, waiting for you to leave your body unattended. Suddenly you’re feeling very proprietary.

The disembodied voice of your admirer floats over the divider.

“I’ll be here, just let me know.”

Her voice sounds nice, you think. Maybe she’d take good care of your body. Does she know that your body cramps up in cold water, but loves warm water like a tropical fish? What about your right knee that gets achy if you miss your weekly yoga class? Does she know that it’s allergic to penicillin, but loves echinacea? What about that cool hula-hooping trick you learned last summer? She couldn’t possibly treat this body the way it deserves. She couldn’t appreciate it the way you do, love it the way….

You place the other bodies back on their hangers, and open the door. You look at the woman standing there. Her body is fine, a great body, and you wonder for a moment why she would dream of trading it in for yours.

“I’ve made my decision. I choose this body. My body. The one I was born with.”

She looks a little disappointed, and then shrugs and wanders away into the aisles. You silently wish her good luck, that she finds the body of her dreams.

You wander back out into the sunlight, happy to have chosen this body above all other bodies as your own. You’re pretty attached to it, after all.

Choose your body. So many of us live our lives as if our body is an unfair burden that’s been foisted on us by a god with a demented sense of humor.

What if instead, you said yes to your body? Yes, Body, I choose you! Choose this body with all its beauty, all its flaws, all its memories, and all its wisdom. Choose to live your life in this body. As if you’d been to the body store and walked out without buying a thing, tell yourself:

I could have chosen any body to live in, but I choose this one, this amazing, glorious body that is mine.

Why not?

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Love Your Body Blog Part 34: Dear Body, I’ll love you if you lose 20 lbs, if you promise not to get old, if you never get sick…

Imagine a friend saying to you… “I only hang out with you because you’re thin.” Or, “I like you okay now, but when you get old and flabby, I’m outta here.” As soon as you collected your jaw bone off the floor, you’d probably find a reason to go pick your teeth, check your spam, or do anything more rewarding than wasting another minute in their general vicinity.

Yet how many of us have some kind of conditional relationship with our bodies? Sure, I’m happy with my body as long as it behaves itself… as long as it doesn’t freak out and start packing on extra pounds. Or wrinkles. As long as it keeps up its end of the deal and stays healthy and in shape, we’re buds. But the minute it starts to show signs of decay, illness, or age, we start talking to our body like someone in the Sopranos… “Hey, I thought we had a deal. You better shape up or things could get ugly around here. I’m just sayin’.”

Maybe we’re happy with our bodies, maybe we could even learn to love our bodies… if they stay just the way they are, right now.

Nothing is certain but death and taxes… and I would offer a Buddhist addendum: change is certain. Your body will change, guaranteed. No amount of time spent at the gym, or under the plastic surgeon’s knife, or under cover of 400 SPF sunscreen and your favorite safari hat will alter nature’s inevitable course. Your body will change over time. You will get diseases you’ve never heard of, you will grow fat and thin and fat again, or the other way around, you will have pain in places you didn’t know existed, and you will find wrinkles that (gasp!) have their own wrinkles.

Over the years, my body has changed for the better, and for the worse. Thanks to years of chaturangas and handstands on my yoga mat, my arms and shoulders are stronger than ever. Yet my knees crackle and pop when I bend them. No pain, just cereal elf sounds. My sister, the family doctor, says this condition is called “crepitus” which sounds uncomfortably like “decrepit-us,” a place I admit I’m headed, but I hadn’t planned on reaching anytime soon.

Loving my body isn’t taking a mental picture of myself as I am right now (or was in some pre-snake Edenic past) and loving that body, frozen in time, for the rest of my life. Truly loving your body envisions a relationship that allows for change, even change we wouldn’t choose for ourselves.

If your body is your best friend, can you support and love it throughout aging, sickness, disability, weight gain and loss, through all of life’s ups and downs?

Maybe this feels impossible. Yet you probably already model this type of enduring friendship with your own friends. When your friend gets sick or injured, do you call her up and nag her about what a drag she’s become, how she’s getting fat and old, how it’s all her fault? Or do you make her soup, arrange with friends to bring her meals, and read out loud to her as she falls asleep? You already know how to treat your friends… treat your body the same way.

When your body gets ill, or imbalanced, love it. Offer it nourishing meals, rest, and whatever else it needs to heal. Love your body unconditionally, no matter what it looks like, no matter how it feels. Your body deserves your unconditional love.

Why? Because you’re going to be with your body your entire life. Instead of spending your energy warring with your body and thinking up more elaborate ways to torture it, spend your energy becoming its best friend, showering it with love and understanding, and it will pay you back a thousand-fold in insight, well-being, and sheer power.

Look for what’s good in your body, for what’s good in the changes your body goes through. Appreciate how your body is now and be open to how it will be later. I once heard a beautiful teaching from Thich Nhat Han. In front of his students, he held a delicately painted china teacup, obviously painstakingly decorated by the hands of a talented artist. He said (and I paraphrase), “Can you drink from this cup, wash it, take care of it, admire it, all the while knowing that someday it will become shards and dust, perhaps even in the very next moment? Allow your understanding of its impermanence to help you let it go even as you enjoy it and recognize its preciousness.”

The precious, fragile cup is your body, your life. See its beauty, embraces its changes, and know someday you’ll let it go. Live from this place of knowing.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Love Your Body Blog Part 34: Artists Love Your Body Just the Way It Is.

Do you ever get tired of seeing endless billboards and bus signs advertising lipsuction and gym memberships? There’s a belly liposuction one where I can’t really tell the difference between the before and after pictures. It looks lot like my belly… before dinner… and after dinner. Do I really need liposuction to look as if I haven’t eaten dinner? I’ve been down that road, and it does not lead to Happytown.

Giving up reading magazines full of glossy, improbably thin models is one thing… how do I give up looking at the massive billboard next to the stop light that never seems to turn green? Looking the other way is a start… but what about creating your own images, your own art?

Surround yourself with images of lots of different bodies, with words and pictures that inspire you to love your body, see your own beauty, and relate to yourself as whole and good.

Here’s what not to do: as an anorexic teenager, I made my own anti-body art… a collage of acceptably (in my skewed opinion) thin thighs and butts in tiny bikinis, playing with beach balls in the surf. In thick black marker, I wrote at the bottom: “If you want to look like this, you can’t eat that!” “That” referred to anything not an apple or lettuce. I hung it up on my closet mirror so I could look at it while I dressed in the morning. It had exactly the effect you would expect: self-loathing.

In law school, I was horrified to discover that my mother had unearthed my homemade anti-body poster, and hung it in her own closet. “Oh, I found that a while back,” she explained. “I was hoping it would inspire me to stick to my diet.” Bad mojo takes on a life of its own.

Images are powerful. We can use them to discourage ourselves or uplift ourselves. We can use them to inspire love towards our bodies or its opposite. Nowadays, I have a little dancing clay goddess who hangs in the bathroom. She’s lavender, and carries a magic wand full of ribbons and feathers. She has big hips and tiny breasts, and a full, joyous smile on her face. She’s beautiful, just the way she is.

She reminds me that I’m beautiful, just the way I am.

On my altar, I have another ceramic goddess, this one made by my own hands. She has wide hips, seated cross-legged, and a broad lap to hold an incense cone. Her warm stillness and welcoming contentment inspire me. In the front hallway of our home, we have a gorgeous sculpture made by one of my students… two full bodied women holding one another. They could be mother and daughter, sisters, or lovers. The way in which they lean into each other reflects their affection and ease with each other.

Today I choose to surround myself with images that reflect the beauty I see in myself, and the beauty I want to see in myself: art that encourages me to see beauty in many different bodies.

Everyday I walk by these images before I even leave the house, filling my eyes and body with a sense of worthiness and well-being, that gradually has become who I am in the world. At the end of the day, from the moment I walk in the door, they serve as counter-charms to the anti-body billboards and messages I’ve unconsciously taken in all day.

Make your own Love Your Body art by taking a big piece of butcher paper (even tape together two long sheets!) and getting a friend to trace your body. Paint or draw with bright colors whatever inspiring words and images resonate with you and hang it up to inspire yourself to love and appreciate your body everyday.

If you don’t have the time or the inclination to make body-affirming art, support artists who do: Sigrid Herr made the lovely sculpture in the picture above, check out her website ( for even more of her gorgeous work. has artwork from many different artists celebrating the diversity of the female form.

Many of my artist students who have taken the Love Your Body workshop (next one starts May17) say from their experience drawing nudes that all bodies are beautiful and fascinating to artists; the folds and creases and wrinkles of a body are what give it life and tell its story.

Artists are inspired by the unique beauty of every body... of your body.

I want to hear from you, and give you the chance to share in the comments… what art, homemade or artist made (or both!), inspires you to love your body and counter the barrage the anti-body imagery we’re fed in the world and that we’ve fed ourselves for too long. Art is nourishment for our bodies and souls.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Love Your Body Blog Part 33: The Ultimate Love Your Body Playdate!

Last Friday night, I went with my sweetie to the Kabuki Spring and Spa in SF. My body loves the simple beauty of the Asian-themed sitting areas and baths, the warmth of the water and sauna. On your way into the steam room, you can pick up a cup of sea salt to gently exfoliate and massage your skin as you let the hot, moist air open and soothe your pores.

My first experience at the Kabuki was many years ago, when a couple of dear friends surprised me with a visit there to cheer me up after I’d broken my foot a couple months before. As I approached the entrance to the main bath area, I started wishing my towel covered me from head to toe. It’s clothing optional, women only on Fridays, but I hadn’t brought a swimsuit.

I wished a terry cloth burqua would materialize out of thin air.

Hovering at the threshold, I saw a group of three older women seated to my right in a group on low stools in front of a line of bowls and low faucets, whispering quietly and washing one anothers’ backs and hair. Their butts smooshed a little bit over the sides of the stools, their bodies reflecting their ages and lives, but they were reassuringly unconcerned about their appearance---entirely focused on taking affectionate and matter-of-fact care of one another. My eyes inexplicably teared up.

I want to be like that, some part of me whispered. That comfortable, that easy in my body whatever age or size I am.

Pausing to take a deep breath, I wandered further inside. No one spilled their cups of cucumber water, or held their hands over their eyes and ran away screaming at the sight of my stretch marks and cellulite. Everyone was apparently enjoying being in their own bodies too much to worry about mine. Gradually, as I let myself be soothed by the tinkly music and the warm waters, my body began to feel surprisingly normal among all these other bodies. At home. At ease.

At the baths all your fears about what people will think or say or do in response to your body melt away in the face of reality: no one really cares. There’s also a sneaky effect we’re not even consciously aware of: observing women who are comfortable in their differently sized bodies inspires each of us to do the same. This isn’t just wishful thinking: your brain is full of these little nerve cells called mirror neurons whose job is to map onto your body what you see other bodies doing. They are what allow you to pick up new dance moves from watching internet videos, or imitate a pose your yoga teacher demonstrates.

When you see a woman touch her body in a way that shows respect, affection, and enjoyment, your mirror neurons try to map that same behavior onto your body, supporting a positive feedback loop between your brain and your body that can help you move from anxiety in your body to ease and friendship.

My body feels so taken care of at the Kabuki… there are stacks of rolled towels, iced washcloths and cucumbers to put over your eyes (though I like to snack on them too), lounges to nap on, and little stations where you can pour yourself green tea or lemon water. They even have piles of cotton balls and Q-tips in the dressing area. Nothing says “You’re safe here” like a hundred Q-tips in a lacquered box.

Now down to the nitty gritty. How much would you expect to pay for an experience like this… $100 an hour? At least $75, right? No. You can go in and stay all day for $22. The ultimate Love Your Body date costs less than a tube of department store lipstick. Shh. It’s just our little secret, right?

Of course, if you’re headed for the Kabuki one day, call me up… I might just join you. I’ll wash your back if you wash mine.

What's your ultimate Love Your Body Playdate? Would love to hear your ideas and experiences!

Friday, April 8, 2011

Love Your Body Blog Part 32: Love Your Body, Love your Orgasm

Orgasm. There, I said it. I’m pretty sure college was where I first heard the word, and even then it sounded like something only men enjoyed. My first orgasm came about not with my first lover, or even my second, though Mr. Second did plant the seeds, so to speak.

Lying in the arms of Mr. Second one night after having sex in my single dorm room bed, I stroked his back with my hands, and he murmured into my ear, “Are you a lesbian?”

Imagine that. You’re a woman, just having had intercourse with a man, and he asks you if you’re a lesbian! Not very flattering. What was weirder… I got the impression that he was asking me not because I hadn’t enjoyed it, but because I’d enjoyed it too much. Bemused and smiling into his shoulder, I answered him, “I don’t think so.”

Mr. Second was full of intriguing questions, many of which centered around my apparent inability to orgasm. “Do you ever play with yourself?” he asked me one morning, after yet again his satiation was accompanied by my “Are we done already?”

The tone of his question implied that I might be a freak if I never masturbated, so I pretended a sudden coughing fit.

In my childhood bed in the Midwest, snuggled between my yellow butterfly sheets, I hadn’t ever played with myself much… “down there” was something I was unconsciously saving for someone else. And not having read the owner’s manual, I didn’t even know how my vagina was supposed to work or feel or what “playing with it” might involve. Does it like to play catch or shoot hoops or make paper dolls? All the vagina owner’s manuals had been permanently removed from our high school library... bummer.

Yet Mr. Second inspired me to try. He inspired me to try out the lesbian thing, too. He was right on both counts. Though it was Mr. Third who finally brought me to my first orgasm, after Mr. Second moved to Czechoslovakia. I don’t think I had anything to do with him moving across the ocean… but I could be wrong. I’ll always be grateful to Mr. Second, my lover who taught me to ask questions about my body and what I really want. His inquiries led me to a confidence and pleasure in my body I had never imagined possible, and that I’ve enjoyed consistently ever since.

What does all this have to do with loving your body? Orgasm is a marvelous, ecstatic way to experience your body, whatever size or shape or age it is.

Some studies estimate that up to 43% of women don’t have orgasms during sex. Can you imagine if men had such high rates? First of all, they’d complain endlessly… tell me I’m wrong. Secondly, they’d find a cure, like a little blue pill they could take before sex… oh, you tell me this already exists? Just proves my point.

One potent way to love your body… give it an orgasm.

Flood your system with all the yummy, lovey hormones that follow, and let yourself enjoy the ride. You deserve it. Your body deserves it.

And if you’d like to explore how your sexuality supports your love for your body and your creative power, I’ve got just the thing for you… I’m giving away a free women’s retreat for next weekend, thanks to the lovely ladies at One Taste. They are launching a movement to empower around their sexuality and the whole of their lives. Check out their Turned On Woman’s Manifesto: it’s radiant and wildly inspiring.

One lucky Love Your Body Blog reader will get a FREE SPOT in the upcoming weekend retreat: A Turned-on Woman's Retreat: Intimate Conversations about Women, Sex & Life.

This one-of-a-kind retreat begins April 15-17, 2011, at Le Meridien Hotel in San Francisco. Led by Nicole Daedone and her faculty, the weekend will focus on how we as women can reignite our innate capacity for pleasure and live from desire. Nicole’s first book, Slow Sex: The Art and Craft of the Female Orgasm is due out in May 2011. Her work has been featured on Nightline as well as The New York Times. Hopefully, you’ll see me there, too, for at least part of the weekend. You can learn more about the weekend at the One Taste website.

To enter the contest, simply email me a few lines about what makes you a turned on woman?

If already got my group of guest judges standing by to pick a winner. All submissions must be emailed by Sunday, April 10th at midnight and the winner will be contacted Monday. Everyone is welcome to attend the kickoff reception Friday, April 15th from 7-10pm at Le Meridien Hotel (333 Battery St. San Francisco). Suggested donation $30 but no one turned away for lack of funds. Send all submissions to

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Love Your Body Blog Part 31: Who Loves Your Body?

Just yesterday morning, my sweetie asked me, “Have you mentioned on your blog how important it is to surround yourself with people who love your body?” Why, no honey, I haven’t… but I will.

If you want to love your body, surround yourself with people who think your body is the bomb.

Not lethally dangerous like a bomb. That’s not exactly what I mean. The bomb, as in awesomely, explosively amazing.

Not that your body looks like Angelina Jolie’s or whomever’s. But people who love your body as an expression of you… who love it young, old, fat, thin, ill, or healthy.

Where are these people, you may ask?

Is it like Where’s Waldo, where you scour and filter through hordes of people in similarly red and white striped shirts, looking for the ones who light up when you and your body enter the room? Well, kind of.

It’s quite possible you are surrounded by people who think your body is wonderful already.

First, cancel out all the people who you know for a fact don’t appreciate your body, i.e. mean Uncle Bob, the well-intentioned friend who’s always hinting at you to lose weight, the oblivious trainer, and the lady who keeps trying to sell you diet pills at work. Now you probably still have some people to work with. Include everyone on your list who has ever given you a sincere compliment, everyone who loves you unconditionally, and everyone who has ever encouraged you to see the beauty in yourself by word or by deed. Think of those among your friends and acquaintances who seem comfortable and happy in their bodies… it’s a good bet these folks are comfortable with your body too, just the way it is. Perhaps your list has grown quite long, or quite short. If you have even one person on your list, you’ve got a good start. (If there’s no one on your list, email me, and I’ll give you some personalized tips on where to find your peeps.)

This one person or several people make up the core of your Love Your Body posse. What’s a Love Your Body posse? The folks you can rely on to reflect back to you your true reflection… that of a worthwhile, attractive, lovable human being.

Your Love Your Body posse is made up of people you can call and share your latest two steps back with, who remind you that your body is good just because it’s yours, and that the value of your life isn’t measured by the numbers on a scale.

Having your partner be the CEO of your Love Your Body posse is an enormous coup if you can manage it. I’ve been lucky… not only does my sweetie love my body, but she’s made it very clear that she’d be perfectly happy with even more to love. Her consistent refrain over many years---Your body is beautiful, I love your body---forced me to look at my body through her eyes, and see it as desirable and good. After about the ten thousandth and thirty-first time, I started to believe her.

The opposite sentiment---I’m not attracted to your body, you’re body is ugly---would have undoubtedly taken less time to sink in.

And would have crushed my soul into brittle little shards if I stayed.

Thank God I’m not dealing with a partner who dislikes my body… if you are, my heart goes out to you. That sucks… and possibly qualifies as emotional abuse.

If you’re single and searching, look for the person who makes your heart go thrum and your body feel adored and alive: someone who tells you and shows you they love your body exactly as it is.

If you’re considering someone, ask your body for its opinion, “Hey body, what do you think? Does this person show you the unqualified respect and adoration you deserve?” Trust your body’s instincts; remember it’s your best friend.

Why is having a Love Your Body posse important?

Because we are constantly bombarded by the message that our bodies are not good enough, both from outside, and often from within our own minds. If you are serious about developing an enduring friendship with your body, you need support. Otherwise, it’s like trying to quit drinking while you’re still hanging out with all your five-martinis-an-hour friends. Not the recipe for success---more a self-sabotage soufflĂ© with a swirl of masochism on top.

Get together with the folks on your list of potential Love Your Body posse members and talk to them about your desire to be a better friend to your body.

Journal together some of the practices from this blog, and share your answers. Make commitments to each other for how you’re going to be a good friend to your body today. Schedule Love Your Body playdates---go out and have fun in your bodies. Collaborate and inspire one another to come up with your own ways to love and celebrate your body.

And here’s the shameless plug: if you’re looking for even more posse members, come to the next Love Your Body workshop series, starting Tues, May 17, 7-9 in Berkeley. Over four weeks, we’ll connect and support each other, and you’ll develop the skills and tools you need to become the friend to your body you never imagined you could be. Email me for more details!

Your inner work in coming to love your body can help you forge friendships you’ll treasure for the rest of your life. And your friendships will provide the fertile soil for your love for your body to grow beyond your wildest imaginings.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Love Your Body Blog Part 30: Do You Think I’m Fat?

Imagine going up to people on the street and asking them, “Do you think I’m fat? Why… or why not? Are you just being polite? What do you really think?”

Invite them to check you out. Turn over your shoulder and look at your butt like you’ve never seen it before. As if you’re shopping for a new one, and you’re looking for a second opinion.

I guarantee the results of this, no matter how fat or thin you are: Some people will say yes, you could lose a few pounds, and some people will say no, you look great. Some people will look at you like you’re nuts while they back away slowly, and others will actually think about the question, answering it carefully: “Well, I don’t think you’re fat but some might. Say you were on Rodeo Drive in LA…” Some will actually ask you intelligent questions, like “Fat compared to what, to whom…? What do you mean by ‘fat’?” Some, spying an opening, will recommend a diet to you, or tell them about their friend’s great diet… even though you didn’t ask, and most likely you don’t even want to lose weight.

Even the thinnest woman out there, yes the most anorexic woman in world, if she asked enough people, would meet some jerk who would tell her she was fat. Yep. You think I’m wrong? Type these two words into Wikipedia: Karen Carpenter.

If you nurture the futile hope that someday everyone in the world will recognize you as attractive and lovable, give up now. The world has never agreed about anything.

And you know why? Because it’s not really about you. When someone tells you you look fat, or beaten with an ugly stick, they aren’t seeing you as you are. They are seeing you through their own particular lens of their mom’s constant battle to lose five, ten, or fifty extra pounds, the perfected bodies of the Hollywood starlets they most admire (Portia de Rossi or Kate Winslet, perhaps), their own group of drinking buddies (who avoid and fear fatties, make fun of fatties, or secretly desire fatties---possibly all at the same time), and the home-grown nastiness of the playground bully from their childhood. They don’t see you at all.

Even when your dad tells you to lose a few pounds, he’s not seeing you, either. Here’s what goes through his mind: “If my daughter were thinner, people would think I’m a good dad, that I’d raised her to be successful, attractive, and smart. Fat on her makes me look like a loser. Beside, I want her to be happy, or at least look happy, and everybody knows only skinny people are happy.”

You see, unconsciously he sees you through a lens called “The Dad Show.” You are a minor character whose only importance is how you reflect on him.

He’s the lead, the director, the producer, the technical crew, the musicians, the gaffer (what does the gaffer do anyway?), and he sells the tickets from the glass box at the front door wearing his little coffee can hat. You occasionally stride on stage right, pause for a few lines, then wander off into the wings. The entire time you’re standing in the spotlight, he wonders, “What does my audience think of her? Will they pan my show because her cleavage is showing… or isn’t showing enough?”

Don’t take anything personally, advises Don Miguel Ruiz in his book The Four Agreements. “Nothing other people do is because of you. It is because of themselves. All people live in their own dream, in their own mind; they are in a completely different world from the one we live in.” The good news is, you don’t have to live in anyone else’s dream; you don’t have to make “The Dad Show” your show.

What other people think of you, how other people see you, isn’t you, unless you agree that it is.

If you agree that you’re fat, or that because you’re fat you’re unworthy, or that you’re unattractive no matter what size you are, then you are right. You believe it, you live your life in that belief, and your life reflects that.

If instead you believe that you are worthy and beautiful no matter what size or shape or age you are… your life catches fire and burns brightly with the understanding that who you are in no way depends upon what others think of you. Bask in the warmth, enjoy the light. You’re truly free.

Smile secretly when you catch a glimpse inside another’s dream… when they question your worthiness, know it’s not up for debate, and be glad you live inside your own head, your own body, and not theirs. Maybe someday they’ll find the door marked FREEDOM, or maybe they won’t. Send them a blessing. They need it.

Source: The Four Agreements: A Practical Guide to Personal Freedom, Don Miguel Ruiz, p 49, Amber-Allen Publishing 1997.