self love

Solo Road Trip as Rite of Passage: An Introduction

There are so many stories of men finding themselves in the great outdoors and on the open road. This great big adventure open to them like a baptism into reality and nature and life. As I started planning my route, I realized how few women I had as role models to guide me and it honestly freaked the hell out of me. Is this safe? Will I die? Can I handle an emergency situation on my own?

I may not have realized it when the planning first started, but I essentially designed my own Rite of Passage road trip. I booked a five day training in Loveland, Colorado with Dr. Clarissa Pinkola Estés, an initiation in and of itself, and decided it would be the perfect kick off to this trip. Excavating the interior before expanding into the exterior. In case you haven’t noticed, excavation and expansion is kind of my thing. 

Of course I meet another Northwestern alum

Of course I meet another Northwestern alum

And so for 5 days, I sat in lectures and hiked and watched the sun rise and set and met other curious, beautiful, creative, spiritual beings from all over the world. In the training Dr. E, as everyone calls her, asked us to allow what we learned to marinate, like a pressure cooker, and so I’ll be keeping that to myself for now, but here is what happened after (along with some tips and tricks should you feel called tonplan your own adventure).

From October 21 - October 31, I drove over 2,000 miles through Colorado, New Mexico, Arizona and southern California. The first thousand miles on my own. The second thousand, with a friend I picked up in Page, AZ. 

One of the many sunsets on the ranch in Loveland

One of the many sunsets on the ranch in Loveland

Taking the first leg of the trip alone was important to me. To prove to myself that I can handle anything. And as your friendly neighborhood Capricorn, I was prepared. I booked AirBnBs which ranged from a private room in a home in Santa Fe, to a hostel in Salida, CO, to a tent near the Grand Canyon, to a hogan on an unnamed road on the Navajo reservation. I planned my big drives making sure I’d arrive at my destinations by sundown (which I missed by an hour or 2 a few times, but it was actually alright.)

I then packed and gathered supplies. Some of the most important items included: my green jacket, sunglasses, caps, fleece jacket and pants, Lululemon pants (literally the guy at REI was like, “they’re honestly the perfect hiking pants”), first aid kit, water bottle canteens, wool socks, hiking boots and poles, a flashlight with backup batteries, Swiss army knife, mace (thanks, mom), rx bars, protein powder, emergen-C, instant coffee, Advil, a hot water bottle, Thinx, tampons (yes I had my period on this trip), a lacrosse ball (for rolling out sore muscles), journals, crystals and a tarot deck because duh. 

I also wore my mala beads throughout the entire trip. They extend down to just below my pelvis and so they felt like a protection spell and served me well. I also kept a few crystals in the car given to me by my darling Bakara when I visited her at Everyday Magic for safe travel including sandstone and red tiger’s eye (thank you so much, the sandstone didn’t leave my dash). I also threw in a little pyrite for power and luck. These items are not necessary, but having talismans for protection really helped me feel more capable and less alone. They helped me trust my intuition and my instincts and my intellect. To sum: never say no to help.

I have to say having five days to work towards finding my center (and acclimating to the altitude) was super helpful so if you’re flying to a starting point, definitely do that. I felt almost charmed throughout the trip with every setback having a unique and perfect outcome. Starting with my car rental. 

The lady that helped me, suggested I upgrade to a Nissan Murano for the navigation and honestly I’m so in love with that car now. We had the best time together. I haven’t owned a car since high school, but this car rules in my very humble opinion. I picked it up at around 2:30 or 3PM and started driving down I-70. I was going to the Great Sand Dunes the next morning and wanted to make sure I was off the road by sunset because I know reception and light can be tricky in the mountains so my destination was a hostel in Salida, CO. Driving through those mountain ranges and valleys was breathtaking. The way rock and sky met and dipped and made way for ranches and pines. I was literally weaving in and out of the Rocky Mountains. I even sped alongside the Arkansas River for a spell. I will say that on day 1, I was not very good at stopping for historic views because I had already passed them by the time I realized I could pull over, but there was so much to see from the car, it didn’t really matter. 

The sun was just starting to set as I pulled off the highway and into the beautiful little mountain town, guided by the glow of a waxing moon. I stopped for a quick dinner at a local bar and chatted with an artist who owned a gallery in town. I had all the tips about not letting anyone know you’re alone in the back of my mind, and of course, didn’t give away any details of my plans or lodging, but you know how you can just tell when someone is buena gente? This town just felt good. 

Back at the hostel, I was given the tour and picked my bunk, the second tier in a three level bunk bed toward the back, and settled in. I had to be up at 6AM for the drive to the Dunes so I expected to be in bed early, but I got sucked into reading poetry and playing Uno with a group of regulars who totally blew the lid off of what my experience of a life could be. Here were people so different from my usual crowd in Miami or New York and I felt like I fit in immediately. My 10pm bed time soon turned to after 1am, after meeting another Cuban who lived in this town. 

The next morning one of the veterans (as in army) I had met made breakfast while I made coffee and we spent the morning talking before we went our separate ways, a little later than I had planned, but well worth it for the company. My adventure had just begun, and what an initiation to the road it was. 

Read part 2: Sand Dunes + the road to Santa Fe

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.

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.