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It’s been cold and snowy for the past couple of days here in Southern New England and I can’t help but to think about warm things. I don’t usually like to do that- it makes the cold that much worse by comparison- but even thinking about a nice, warm 40 degree day sounds awesome.

Thinking about proper warm, sunny days, like we get in the Summer, made me start thinking about sweating. I have, for a couple of years now, been fascinated by my own sweaty body. I like sweaty bodies in general- it means effort, exertion, making attempts at goals, heat, maybe sex, and some bodies smell fantastic when sweaty (I’m not one of them). Sweat also means warmth and movement and flexibility- equally sexy and fantastic as the other things.

So, I remain fascinated with sweat in general, and my sweat in particular. How it feels to have a workout where I am dripping with it (it feels rather badass- pushing my limits). How it feels to have the sweat cool on my skin. How it looks and feels sitting atop my skin- sometimes I notice every little bit, sometimes I am oblivious. The gorgeous feeling of being so entranced in my workout, or so dedicated to finishing what I’m doing, and the drops of sweat fall from my chin, nose, and and chest. Those drops are hard-earned and they feel like gold when I am warm and working my ass off.

I offer you a study in sweat.

::: ::: ::: :::


| The cure for anything is salt water: tears, sweat, or the sea. |


| Luck is the dividend of sweat. The more you sweat, the luckier you get. |


| There’s nothing better than working up a good sweat. |


| There’s something incredibly sexy about sand and sweat and dunes
photographed like women’s backs.  – Kristin Scott Thomas |


| Sweat! Sweat! Sweat! Work and sweat, cry and sweat, pray and sweat!  – Zora Neale Hurston|


|By being an athlete, I have discovered so many other ways to express my beauty. Being a strong, fearless woman makes me feel beautiful. I love the way I look and feel when I am two hours into my training and my skin is glistening with sweat and my clothes are drenched because
I have given it all I’ve got.  – Laila Ali|


| the best sweat is a from a hot bath, though. |


G’night fellow travelers. May your sweat bring you joy.
Joanna :: xoxo




How does a sensualist celebrate Christmas?

She doesn’t! She celebrates Solstice. And we start the day with candlelight.



At our house we do a big celebration for Solstice because we’re not Christians. Taoist-Buddhist-Pagan eclectic mix is what we do here (although, I’ve been thinking about that, too- and probably need to reconsider what right I have to those traditions. But not today…)

One of the reasons we celebrate Solstice (both of them, and the Equinoxes) is our dedication to science, but also because they are the celebrations that our closest to the body. Before central heating, our bodies knew what season it was because of the changes in the light and the changes in temperature each season. Even now, I need more thyroid medication during the winter because my body is registering that it’s time to slow down, experience less light, and my metabolism responds accordingly. We’ve lost some of that physical connection with the seasons (okay, but we did gain Netflix, so it’s not all bad) but we can reconnect with it easily enough by connecting with the solstices and equinoxes. So, here we are.

Around here we relax during the day, letting the darkest day sink into our bones- because there is a natural desire to slow down during this time of year. We eat a candle-lit dinner to acknowledge and enjoy the dark. At dinner we will eat foods that remind us of the sun- sweet potatoes, orange cheese, oranges, fizzy drinks (I have no idea why that reminds me of the sun, just go with me on this), we make a ‘sunshine’ cake, and other items that make us feel happy amongst the dark.

We perform the ritual of letting dark things go. The winter Solstice is the time to let go of what no longer serves us- to unwind, untie, unlearn, and release that which is no longer needed. We write things on paper and burn them in a clay pot- and use the ashes to feed a new plant that we will love into the new year and into Spring.

It is also a time to honor the dark- because darkness is part of human nature, too. And without our fear, anger, frustration, sadness, and grief we are incomplete (what would we be if we were happy all the time?). So we also bless the darkness for holding balance in our lives.

I spend time with all the holiday things that bring me sensual pleasure.

Sarah McLachlan’s Wintersong album – truly full of adult holiday feelings

Harry Connick Jr.’s  Songs I Heard – not Christmas-based but reworking childhood favorites

The Muppets singing “Little Saint Nick” – because you need Animal grinding it out, okay?

“Stop the Cavalry” by The Cory Band – which is a weird but enjoyable anti-war/nuke protest song. But it sounds like Christmas.

And my ‘put it on repeat’ favorite: “Christmas Wrapping” by the Waitresses.

[I will tell you, I got super sick of Christmas music the other day and had to put on some Van Halen, Rush, and Aerosmith. So, raise your glass for sensuality and 80s rock this Solstice.]


I will drink my favorite tea. (Once you have British tea, you can never go back. Buy it here.)  Lots of sugar, lots of cream.



I’ll read favorite books.

Sections from David Copperfield. Because in AP English (waytoomanyyearsago) we read it in December and I can never go without it now.

A children’s book my grandmother gave me when I was diagnosed with diabetes (36 years ago!) called “Joel Schick’s Christmas Present” which is a re-telling of the 12 Days of Christmas, except with strange creatures. Creatures that eat the decorations. And once you sing it in your head with the new words, you will have trouble remembering the old ones.



Something from Toot & Puddle, a quieting favorite when my kids were small.



I will put my children to bed, snuggling with my daughter as the twinkly lights hang quietly in her room. My son simply wants hugs these days. I will feel my body against their’s, remembering when they were small enough to fit into my arms.


I’ll curl up in my favorite sweater and jeans and watch Emmett Otter’s Jugband Christmas (which no one but me loves) and The Family Stone, with a bowl of popcorn. [Except I lied. Tonight is the opening of Season 4 of Peaky Blinders on Netflix. And I am going to watch and fall in love with Tommy Shelby and his intelligent, graceful violence once again. He is so fucking delicious.]


I feed myself what I most need on this day, with a special awareness of the dark, of its gifts, and of the promise of coming light. And Solstice will be the calmest day of my year.




twelve twelve twelve

Five years ago today I asked two friends to help me with a project. Twelve is my favorite number and I wanted to do something really special for 12/12/12. It was a once-in-a-lifetime chance. I asked an artist friend to paint me. I wanted to celebrate myself, my body, my spirit, and do something different. It was a wonderful day, and made me feel both empowered and magical.

Looking back now, I realize it was my first step into the discovery of my sensual self.


My friend, Natasha from Zen Bubble, was the artist.


The finished product. Pre snake tattoo.


I finally made peace with my post-pregnancy belly with this lotus and waves.
[My deltoid and bicep are my favorite part of this photo, though.]


This is probably my favorite photo of the whole shoot.
Maybe this was the start of The Naked Mystic, too.




knowing me.

I’ve been thinking some about how we get to know people. How do we pick people we want to be our friends, lovers, companions, teachers, mentors, counselors? Do we even know we’re picking them? And about 1,000 other similar questions.

As an INFJ I’m an introvert, so it’s hard to reach out to people and even try to make connections. I do try when I think it will be worth the effort, i.e. someone matches my super high standards. But my standards are high because I’ve been disappointed so often. And as an introvert, I get tired of trying.

I’m also pretty intense. My nickname at home is ‘small but powerful’ and it’s because I’m intense both in mind and body. Some people dig that, some people can handle that. And some people can’t. Weirdly, the people who cannot handle my intensity still seem to stick around and watch me. (There’s a dude who has been near me for five years who still cannot decide whether to leave me alone or connect in some way. I call him ‘WatchGuy’ as he likes expensive fake watches (‘replicas’). He sneaks around my social media, he sits on some posts so long I get ‘replica’ spam comments. And even though he knows I don’t deal in fakery at all, he still hangs around. I can only assume because he finds me fascinating. But he doesn’t have the guts to reach out. I’ve gotten over finding it annoying, now I just find it weird. Like, make a fucking decision, you know? Get on with your life.)

In the end, though, I’m one of the nicest people you’ll ever meet. Because I care. Often, too much. I have a big heart and it forgives a lot of things (I’m not sure it forgets, but it forgives far longer than it should). I want people to feel loved. I want them to be happy and healthy. I want there to always be a safe place for them to tell the truth and live their truth. I want to see people so they feel good- because we all deserve to be seen, to be loved, to feel good. I know these things, and try to provide them, because I feel the same, I want the same.

Encouragement, support, and love are the things I give most easily- my heart is just built that way. And I will love and encourage you in whatever you dream of being, whoever you truly are, for as long as I can. I see the truth of people and I will always show that to you until you see it for yourself.

I belong to a group called “INFJ Refuge” on Facebook and I they always have the best pictures and explanations of what INFJs really are. Here’s what you need to know about me.


This is seriously what it’s like in my head all day. INFJs are more strategic and functional in our heads than in real life. And it makes life interesting to say the least.


I wish there were 15 more words for ‘love’ than there are in the English language. ‘Love’ often simply refers to romantic of familial love- and that just isn’t enough breadth and depth for me. I love a lot of things and I love in many ways.


This is where INFJs can be cruel- basically, evolve or die. I can care for people and support and love them for a very long time, but if they don’t change, I will eventually leave. I did this recently and hurt someone I care about a lot (we’re working on it, though). Change doesn’t have to be big- simply show me you’ve learned something or seen something in a different way. But if you don’t grow, I’m not sticking around in the mud with you.


A. Rehman wrote this to go along with this picture/poem: “Today, from the time I woke up, I had her on my mind. She seeped into all the corners of my mind, unlike all the other days. I wanted her back, so bad, I felt like dying. After a hectic day…I came home and woke up my phone to see the date. It was her birthday. I sat still on the sofa for fifteen minutes and ran through all the memories we had made- they hit me like a cyclone. I thought to myself, ‘the reason she was in my mind the whole day was because it was her birthday. The third one after our breakup.’ They say when you are thinking about someone, chances are, they are thinking about you. I believe she was.” <– This is what it’s like inside the head of an INFJ. We care. We feel you. Even from a distance.


Just, yeah. I need someone to care for me. Partner or friend, please just be kind and support me.


“My daily consciousness is fenced in by reality, logic, perseverance, truth, and optimism. It’s all in how you see it. I don’t just wish for the best outcome and let the cards fall. I believe that if I hope for the best and make choices that align with the optimal end goal, then something good will come of that. Truth be told, it may not be what you were expecting, but no effort goes wasted.” Exactly. I believe there is potential for good in almost every situation.



This is why I take 20 minute showers. The first 10 minutes are therapy. Also, no one hears you crying when you’re in the shower.


“Our hearts are too soft, and our brain overthinks. And this is why we must listen to our gut ’cause that biyatch don’t lie.” I’ve had to learn to trust my intuition over everything else.


I don’t do it to be creepy, I do it because I’ve learned to (INFJs often come from tough/dysfunctional households- we’ve had to learn to please others so we’d be left alone to be safe). I do my best to use this tool to make others feel accepted, happy, and loved so that I know I’m not turning into the asshole who taught me how to be this way.




If I write to you it means I care. The more I write, the more I care. The more I write, the more I hope you will understand me and listen to what I say- because listening to me is the greatest gift you can give me.


Overthinking isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. But I do think a lot, and I do practice what I’m going to say – because I want to be understood. I desperately want to be understood.

Lastly, INFJs have the best worst sense of humor. Dark. Twisted. Nerdy. Dirty. Bring me your best awful and inappropriate jokes; I’ll laugh my loudest.

::: ::: ::: :::

Okay, wow. That was a lot to say. But it’s pieces of who I am and how I see the world and how I interact with it. If it doesn’t work for you, that’s fine. Please leave and be on your way and love other people who suit you better. But if you like being cared for, seen and understood, and you can give a little of that back- stick around. I’m worth it.