self care

A Treatise on Self-Love, Self-Touch and the Alchemy of Sex Magic

I wrote this for myself, but after reading it over, I realized it was for you, too. Consider this a love letter to your body as well as my own. May you find comfort and love and sensuality here.

Feel the intimate grooves of your skin. Linger over your succulent, smooth, bumpy, hairy, soft, tender, muscular thighs. Feel the bones beneath the softer edges of you. Trace the dimples, the stripes, the battle scars, the growing pains. 

Play with the floppy parts of yourself. Tease and play and pinch. Remind yourself that these parts serve as stores of energy. Remember they keep you vibrant and active. Remember the flesh encased inside skin is your vessel, your capsule, your spaceship. There are knobs and switches to turn you on and rev the engine. 

Stroke the nape of your neck, the lobes of your ear, the inner creases of your elbow and knees. Find the spots that make you tingle, that light up your nervous system like a Christmas tree. That reflect your sparkles like a chandelier. 

Stroke, touch and play with the intimate space between your legs, whatever parts you may hold there. Lose yourself in the rolling waves your own touch activates like the pool in Typhoon Lagoon. Invite the assistance of toys and liquids and lovers, but remember to get to know yourself first. Find the hidden corners of the cavern that ignite fireworks. Find the rhythm that rewires your circuitry. 

Cultivate so much intimacy with yourself, so much pleasure that you become weak enough to feel the first flickers of acceptance. Make yourself come so hard you forget to suck in your belly. You forget about the skin beneath your chin and how it must look to someone else in this moment. Set an intention in your climax. Let it be your own. Let it be selfish. Hoard your sexuality until it feels good to share it. Until you find someone worthy of the gift of you.

Find new names when the old ones make you feel constrained by dirty connotations, and the judgement of men in robes that commit dirty deeds and wear masks of stern injustice to hide their shame. The words of women who were taught to hate themselves and the most natural parts of their bodies. Rename those parts. Reclaim them. 

In my right thigh lives an indent that emerges larger than the rest, peaking out from the folds when I sit. Cellulite they call it. Such a clinical and cold term. The word does not radiate the strength and power mixed with pillow like softness and carnal warmth and fire. My thighs contain entropy and warrior-like ferocity. They are tree trunks that keep me tethered. They are the thighs of strong women from Caribbean Islands and Iberian coastlines and Mediterranean beaches. The thighs of priestesses and mothers and crones and witches. The thighs of chiefs and leaders and above all of lovers wrapped tight in ribbons of limbs seamlessly spiraling though silk. 

My breasts don’t sag, they droop with the weight of the galaxies I hold in my heart. They wax and wane with the moon. They are striped like tigers and zebras, branded by burden of growing too quickly, but stronger for it. Womanly, not because of their size, but for what they feel and endure. 

Refuse to stand for the judgement and name calling that initiated the self hate in the first place. That made these words ring like the shrieks of banshees or stab like rusty knives. Instead, become the siren that lures and drowns that vitriol in the depths of your waters.

Surround yourself with people that make you feel beautiful. Who look for you like sunflowers searching for brilliant rays and shine their own beauty right back. Construct bridges and hammocks and cocoons and pillow forts out of each other so there is always a place to cross and hang and nestle and play. 

Feel the overwhelming disappointment and sadness that accompanies living so that you can build yourself up again, like your favorite Lego set. Find pleasure in the rebuilding. Find the places you can fortify. Forgive the weak points. Build turrets for sentries, but leave the draw bridge open.

Love. Hate. Laugh. Cry. Embrace every extreme like the ocean that your are. Let the waves keep you in motion, but always return to your Self.

On Receptivity: Or, YOU NEED TO RELAX OKAY

We need to learn how to receive. How to relax. How to let go. 

If you’re thinking, Alessandra, I know how to relax, I am so chill, I would like you to try this. The next time you are laying in bed, ready to go to sleep, can you pay attention to your body and notice how much you are actually gripping? Your shoulders, your hands, the corners of your eyes, your jaw, your feet. How many neurons are still firing? How much tension is left inside your muscle fibers as you attempt to ease into your pillow? How safe do you feel in your own bed? How much do you trust your mattress, the ground, the grass, the earth to support you?

Receiving is uncomfortable. Whether it's a compliment, a gift, a hug, a blessing, how often do we respond with, "oh no, I couldn't possibly" or "you should't have" or “no thanks, I got it”? How often do we feel unworthy of receiving?

It's totally bonkers, right? We've become so conditioned to fiercely value the independent and self-made. Those who don't need anyone but themselves. Those who grind themselves to the bone unassisted to get things done. That's the image we get, but how do we get through the quiet moments without a partner, a tribe, a community? Not to turn this into a critique of late capitalism (jk I'm always looking to critique late capitalism), but look at the ads and messages we constantly receive! Don’t sleep, eat or see your children. Just do, make, create. Hyper masculine,* Hyper sun. Hyper ha. Hyper yang. If we don’t supplement that with equal parts nurturing, feminine,* moon, tha, yin, we fall apart. We need both sides. We need the cycle, the compliments the whole.

What I mean is, unclench. What I mean is, let go. What I mean is do nothing, which is not as simple as it sounds. What I mean is find the worth in your Self. Separate from your looks. Separate from your achievements. Separate from the gold stars and trophies and promotions. Separate from your bank account, assets, titles, accolades. Separate from the parts we cling to for validation. 

There is a lot of trendy talk about “self-care.” This is definitely what I am advocating for, but there are specific distinctions I want to make. Self care is something you do for your Self. For your own body. Paying attention to the details of your being and what you need. Paying someone else to massage or manicure you is not self care. Massaging your own legs and discovering the grooves of your muscles is self care. However, allowing yourself to fully receive a massage from someone else is an act of receptivity. There are so many differentiations and overlap. Can we play with and enjoy both?

Masturbating is self care. And I don’t mean mindlessly fumbling about, staring at a screen, or turning on a vibrator. I mean feeling each and every touch. When was the last time you allowed yourself to receive an orgasm? The last time you relaxed into waves of ecstasy instead of pushing and forcing your way to a climax that remains just out of reach? 

Eating is self care. When was the last time you allowed food to nourish you instead of shoveling it into your mouth between meetings? The last time you felt how your lunch made you feel?

When was the last time you felt the effects of your cocktail? Let it swim through you between tastes instead of slipping it like an oral fixation between awkward sentences and boring small talk?

And even when we start to pay attention, are we staying in the moments as we inhabit them? When you’re in the bathtub, are you allowing yourself to float freely, feel the warmth of the water soothe you? Or are we running through our wants and needs and desires and to do lists like never ending scrolls on Tumblr. Our brain is like a website, if we keep scrolling down and loading more content, we will crash. There is a limit to how much we can hold. Can we hit the pause button in earnest?

These are my observations and confessions. No one can house a double cheeseburger from Shake Shack faster than me, but I’m trying to slow down. To savor. To receive. It's as if effort to unclench has become more difficult than maintaining the strain of tension, and that's where the work comes in. It's like using pliers to open up and detach the pieces that cling together in an act of protection. I invite you to submit.

Yoga, therapy, acupuncture, massage, tarot, writing, improv. These are not all the tools, but these are the ones I have found the most helpful. To help me connect, receive, open. It’s not flicking a light switch. It’s years of practice. Of loving it and hating it. It’s hard. But I'm slowly learning to relax. And receive. And listen.

The Empress and The Queen of Coins from The Fountain Tarot

The Empress and The Queen of Coins from The Fountain Tarot

The Empress welcomes us to receive. To use our power to effortlessly attract what we want. Can we trust her? Can we trust each other? Can we loosen the focus of our structures and let our desires manifest effortlessly? Not by shoving the puzzle pieces into place, but by allowing yourself to find the right pieces as they come to you?

I’ve asked a lot of questions. Feel free to sit with them before you answer them for yourself, and, as always, I’m here to listen, share, discuss. 

 

 

*Reminder that when I say masculine and feminine I don’t mean male and female. You may prefer sun and moon, ha and tha, or yin and yang to describe the same thing,  but I find masc and femme to be helpful qualifiers, especially in the context of tarot.

On Intuition: An Awakening (or how I learned that anxiety is not a weakness)

Living inside your body is hard. If you’re prone to anxiety or any other kinds of hyper awareness and discomfort, you could develop pretty harmful habits just to survive. It may feel like this supreme weakness. Why do I feel this unbearable jolt of electricity when I hear the phone ring? Why do I jump to 1,000 horrible outcomes before anything even happens? Why is my brain broken?

Well, this kind of hyper awareness kept our ancestors alive when the dangers were far more threatening than a shitty text or an overbearing boss or client. When that freak out feeling happens, and a bear is attacking, that shot of adrenaline keeps you alive. It's how our ancient counterparts managed to survive, reproduce, and pass on those gene. I repeat: Feeling anxious is how we once survived. In the modern world, however, it’s really freaking inconvenient, definitely, but it’s not weakness. It’s the reason you’re alive at all.

On the days I feel good, I almost feel silly about all my little worries. All the little boxes of doubts and hang ups and years of conditioning that kept me quiet and scared and sad. But on the days I feel bad, it feels like I’m falling down a serrated crack into the center of the earth, into a part of myself that is empty, that is a black hole, that will never end. That feeling, that gripping and tension in every muscle fiber of my body, that’s resistance. That’s the supreme discomfort of not listening to your body. 

When your feelings are routinely dismissed as trivial by parents, teachers, lovers, friends, it’s easy to feel the initial pinprick of a bodily response and say “NO THANK YOU.” But that never works. That leads to built up tension. Shoulders that hike up to your earlobes. Lower back pain. Knots in your calves. Tendonitis. Tension headaches. Yup, all that repression has to go somewhere, and that somewhere is definitely inside your body. Yikes. 

The High Priestess and The Queen of Cups ask us to listen deeply in The Fountain Tarot.

The High Priestess and The Queen of Cups ask us to listen deeply in The Fountain Tarot.

What does all this have to do with intuition? Well, in being so uncomfortable and therefore disconnected from our bodies, we lose that guiding compass that lives inside us. If you hate the feelings within your body, it becomes easier and easier to dismiss it completely. Have you felt yourself shut down, block out everything around you, feelings, sensations, words? Like viewing the world through a fishbowl lens, looking down on yourself as if you were a hovering spectre, or as Get Out so succinctly put it, from the “sunken place”? 

I have found that the times I feel the most uncomfortable, the times I could really use a drink or a pint of ice cream or whatever substance is your go to (this includes sugar and TV), those are the times my body has been begging me to pay more attention. To stop masking these feelings with rolls of duct tape like the pacifier I clung to as a child until my mother told me the pacifier factory burnt down all mine melted int he dishwasher to wean me off. Sometimes our internal mother needs to step in and say, “no, now you listen.”

Often when a client asks me a question, they are either asking the wrong question or they already know the answer. It’s just hidden behind other messages. Messages from society, our upbringing, the many faced internal selves who have their own ideas of what good and healthy look like. Today we are so over stimulated. So burnt out. Constantly connected. Constantly on overdrive. Maybe the remedy isn’t more of something, something new, something better, upgrade 3.7. Maybe we need less. Less noise, less notifications, less busy-ness, less metrics. Maybe we can ditch the Fitbit and listen to what our bodies are saying. 

Love Your Self, Love Your Privates: A Post V-Day Special

Last night I read tarot for 20 women at a wonderful event called ((F*CK LOVE)) Me, Myself & I at one of my favorite workout spots, 305 Fitness. Reading for so many people back to back, you notice trends, and a lot of us have similar things going on despite the particularities of each of our ripples.

I ended up discussing, and advocating for masturbation with 80% of these women. I actually talk about this a lot with most of my clients, and while I don’t usually discuss it this frankly in a public forum, I feel compelled to address some hang ups and call upon particular kind of self-love for all who want to hear it. 

(I have written this post with trans inclusive language in mind, but we are all still learning. Talking about privates in this context feels tricky since I don’t want to assume what anyone is equipped with. If there is better language I can be using, please let me know. You can message me on social media or email me. <3)

We have a pretty icky relationship with masturbation as a society. Despite our obsession with sex and the constant parade of photoshopped, commoditized, fetishized, etc female bodies (and a sprinkling of male ones) being shoved in our faces 24/7, what is your relationship with your own privates? And why do I find the word genitals weird and silly?

Although I’m not the biggest fan of Sex and the City and find a lot of that show’s messaging problematic, a really great example of what I’m getting at is that episode where we discover that Charlotte has zero idea what her own vagina looks like. It’s this whole thing where the gang gets her to use a mirror and see what’s going on down there. I know a lot of people who relate to Charlotte. Who neglect their vaginas and have never looked their lady parts in the eye and said, “I love you” (I have never done that, but I will now). Why are we so afraid of vaginas? There are freaking horror movies about them. (Or is it just that one?) And some of our “worst” curse words mean vagina (you know, family favorites like “cunt” and “twat”). These are the places through which literal human life first greets the world. They’re like the opposite of the Death Veil in the Department of Mysteries (Harry Potter reference for the uninitiated). They’re like the Life Veil. Why are they bad words?

I feel like penises have a little more exposure since they are kind of just out there, and there’s old statues with penises, (this may be flawed logic, but it’s working for me right now), but I wouldn’t be surprised if a lot of folks with penises, have hang ups about their junk. And why is “junk” even a word for genitals? Why do we call a reproductive organ that also provides pleasure trash? 

The Magician, The High Priestess and The Devil from The Fountain Tarot and The Wild Unknown (Plus, an njoy Pure Wand)

The Magician, The High Priestess and The Devil from The Fountain Tarot and The Wild Unknown (Plus, an njoy Pure Wand)

I included The Devil in this image, because this card is so interesting to me, particularly in this context. In pagan tradition, the Horned God represents masculine creativity and the wonder of nature, but long ago, Christian tradition warped that image into a fiend that is out to seduce and drag us all to hell. I think a similar warping has happened to us with relation to our sexual desire. From over exposure to pornography to under education of what real consensual good sex can be, it takes a lot of self-inquiry and guesswork to move past all the confusion.

So what can we do with the reality of this, the fact that we are inundated with messaging that makes us dislike or at the very least disregard our privates? We start by getting intimate. By listening to our bodies. No matter what we have going on downstairs, we start by loving it. By exploring it.

It’s sacred place of pleasure and life, and it’s fucking beautiful. It’s called the Sacral Chakra for a reason, so even if you can’t actually create life, or you have some sort of Hedwig situation, the energetic blueprint in that area of your body is a sacred. So touch yourself. Learn yourself. Know yourself.

I would like to invite you to start without the internet. To touch and look and feel with genuine curiosity without an end game or orgasm in mind. Then, there are plenty of resources (and I do not mean porn) to help level you up. OMGyes.com and Kim Anami come to mind. Then, make it a sacred practice. Light candles, use essential oils, buy toys (Eve's Garden is my personal favorite spot in Midtown Manhattan), find the ritual in loving yourself. 

It takes a lot of practice to evolve past the instilled hang ups of being brought up a Catholic Cuban (or whatever your particular cocktail of conditioning might be) in a sex shaming society. I am still not 100% there. But without the mud, there is no lotus. Without digging through out messy hang ups and patterns, we don't get the break through. So stroke, tease, play, fondle, press and do what you will. I hope that love will follow.