Archive | sensuality

the soft, steeled heart of vulnerability

Vulnerability. Honesty. Being naked.

Each time I post something personal here, I walk a careful line. I try to make sure I am not being gratuitously vulnerable. (Although, I am quite sure some people think I go way over that line every time I write.)

What is gratuitous vulnerability? The kind of openness that goes beyond what is helpful. I sort of think of it as the difference between talking about orgasms and describing how to give me one. (Although plenty of women have done that. And it doesn’t seem gratuitous at all.)

I don’t want to be gratuitously vulnerable. But I do want to be vulnerable. Because vulnerability is sexy, ya’ll. It turns me on just to think about it.

Vulnerability is different than honesty.
Honesty is telling the truth (whatever it may be).
Vulnerability is telling the truth when you know there is a possibility of rejection. 

For me, vulnerability has helped me develop both the strength and the softness of my heart.

I have developed strength from steeling myself for the possible rejection that vulnerability may bring. By ‘steeling’ I mean the traditional definition- to mentally prepare for something difficulty. But I also feel that ‘steel’ in my heart. My heart feels open and also strengthened by some kind of structure. As if there was a steel girder inside my heart, holding it wide open as I tell my truth and let my love out into the world.

My heart’s strength has also developed from continuing to love despite rejection or pain. This is not to say that rejection doesn’t hurt; it really fucking does hurt. And I don’t always react with equanimity when I am rejected; often I run away and hide for a while to feel the anger and sadness and heal my wounds. But, in the end, I refuse to close my heart down, to let less love flow from it, because of rejection. (Repeated vulnerability with no returned love is a game I’ve played and there comes a time to stop. Building boundaries is a valuable tool in vulnerability.)

The softness of my heart is another consequence of vulnerability, a wonderful one. My heart remains soft when I thoughtfully and intentionally remain open to my truth. I get to be with my heart and its wisdom when I listen to what it has to say. That listening helps strengthen my heart.

And there is the reward of softness that comes from remaining open to another’s truth (even if that truth is rejection). The heart must be soft and strong in order to truly hear someone else’s deepest story. This softness between hearts as we tell our truths may actually be the currency of vulnerability. A soft, open heart contains the energy necessary for vulnerability.

And then, when vulnerability is returned to us- what a gift that is. What an honor it is to hear your story and hold it within my heart. That is why vulnerability is such a turn on- I get to hold your nakedness, your unvarnished truth, in the hands of my heart. This is the closeness we dream of with our lovers. I drown in the beauty of it.

Vulnerability is important in life. Without it, where are we? Alone. Vulnerability is the opening in our hearts, and in our life, that makes life meaningful.



| Show me your petals. Your dirt. Your rain. Your thorns.
None of it scares me.
Be vulnerable. |




a force for the transfiguration of the world

“From a Sufi perspective, the whole universe is a phenomenon of desire. The Divine desire pervades all things and beings, empowering each according to its capacity. For the mystic, the truest education is the education of desire. By means of this education, the indwelling Divine desire is liberated from the constraints of the ego and becomes a force for the transfiguration of the world.”

| Pir Zia Inayat-Khan |




“The most powerful starting point for any endeavor is not the question, ‘What do I want?’ but ‘What does Life (God, consciousness) want from me?’ How do I serve the whole?”

| Eckhart Tolle |




Lust Is Not A Problem [Two]

Alright, people. It’s time for the second half of Lust Is Not A Problem, wherein I talk about:

  • reasons lust is okay
  • the pitfalls of lust
  • antidotes to those pitfalls
  • what lust created in my life

I talk kind of fast in this video (my first evah!) and I also cover these big concepts from a rather high level (which is to say: I could have talked for 3 hours on this topic and still not have been done).

So, here’s me, talking about lust and how to use it mindfully.

If, for some reason, you can’t see my delightful face, please click this link to go see the video on my YouTube channel.

As I say in the video, please feel free to drop me a line and let me know what you think.

Big love, fellow travelers,
Joanna :: xoxo

See Also: Lust Is Not A Problem [One]




A Dangerous Woman

[Edited 17 Apr 2016, 5:33 pm EST]

When I wrote this post yesterday, I wanted to say certain things. But I think it didn’t come out all that great. Let me try again. [Also, because I think it’s important for people to see imperfection and honest messes, I am leaving the original text, below the new post.]

Ariana Grande- pop star- has a new single out called ‘Dangerous Woman,’ and I love the song. Except for one thing: she sings this song to someone else. She’s not feeling like a dangerous woman on her own, from an internal sense of herself. She’s only feeling like a dangerous woman in the presence of someone else.

In our society, a truly dangerous woman (not just a sexually adventurous one) is one who lives and acts from an internal sense of herself.

That woman, the one who does not need to relate, is dangerous because she does not need your support or permission to be who she is. A dangerous woman doesn’t obey the law of Western society which asks her to seek permission and validation from outside herself.

I am learning this lesson afresh.

I am integrating my sensuality and sexuality and I am feeling a different connection to those energies and experiences. Instead of needing someone to express myself with – so that I can feel and understand myself in sexual and sensual ways – I am living this way. I am becoming this, rather than needing to express it outwardly so much.

I am beginning to locate my sexual power not in my ability to express it to or with others, but in how I feel inside myself- and how I live from there.

This is not to say I’m perfect at it. People say I exude sexiness and strength and I still have trouble seeing it and feeling it fully. I still project my desires onto other people. I still feel strange holding sexual power and not doing anything with it. I still feel like a newbie every time I open to a new level of my sexual energy and letting it flow. But stepping forward into it is really the only option. (It is the adventure of life- being scared and stepping over the boundary anyway.)

Perhaps we do need to express ourselves to others before we can internalize something and just be it. Perhaps we need to make sense of it before we can bring the concept into ourselves, before we can embody it. But I wonder if locating our power outside ourselves isn’t something girls are taught to do. (In fact, that is exactly what girls are taught to do. And boys, to a great extent. We are taught to obey society, all of us.)

I got a new tattoo on Thursday. It is a tattoo to crown myself as the Empress of my own life. My power resides within me, on me. I am a dangerous woman, but not because you make me feel that way- I am dangerous because of who I am, deep inside myself, and the fact that I will not obey social norms anymore.






I’m going to talk about one of the deepest teachings I share with my clients. And I’m sure there are 20,000 things wrong with doing that from a business perspective, but today that doesn’t matter. Because I want women (and men) to be free.

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

Women are taught to know themselves by relating to other people. 

Women, even as young girls, are taught that we cannot know who we really are until we begin interacting with and relating to another person as who we are or who we believe ourselves to be.

Think about that for a sec.
We have to relate to others in order to know ourselves.

I think that is kinda messed up.
I think that is kinda patriarchal.
I think that might limit women and men.

Women are more likely to be relational than men. This is partly due to hormones (it’s true, but only a little tiny part of the equation) and muchly due to socialization. And because we are more relational, we are more likely to define ourselves by relationship. And to create ourselves by relationship. (Men do this, too, but on a less obvious level, I think.)

This can be wonderful. It can also be awful.

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

When we create or know ourselves only by relationship, it can take us further from who we actually are. Goodness knows there are bazillions of gals who don’t know who they really are, so they don the latest fads or the ideals of their group and take that as their persona.

The other difficulty is that, if we practice at or try to develop a new part of ourselves and we are rejected by those we relate to, we believe the rejection is a judgement of who we are or who we are trying to become. That we are bad or inadequate or something else negative because they rejected us. In fact, someone else’s rejection of us is only an indicator of their preferences.

Their rejection has zero to do with the goodness or authenticity of who we are or who we are becoming. (But it takes time and practice to understand this.)

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

The real gold of this idea- that we must relate to know and understand ourselves – is that it isn’t true.

We do not need to relate to another to know who we are or who we are becoming.

Others may spark something in us, help us open to another aspect of our true Self, but we do not have to stay connected to them to become the true Self.




When I was going through the Sex Surge, I wanted a man (who was not my husband) very desperately. And I wanted him because I believed, with him, I could finally:

  • be sexually free
  • be sensual all the time
  • express my passion
  • create (sexually, verbally, spiritually)
  • deeply connect on many levels

I finally (finally) figured out that I could be these things without him. The Joanna I imagined myself to be in his presence was someone I could be anyway. This man sparked a desire for growth in me, but it didn’t mean I could only grow (and become) with him around. [In fact, he never knew about these desires.]

When we decide to stay with our internal selves in this way (not seeking the other) we are actually creating intimacy with ourselves– we are connecting with and accepting ourselves. And we are not running to the other because of our own internal anxiety at having abandoned ourselves.

If we stay with ourselves in this way- defining ourselves without the other- we will also see where we are addicted and where we are needy. [And I just wrote- and deleted- another 400 words about neediness in relationships. Because not all neediness is bad. But, I think it needs its own blog post.] When we run to the other to continue defining us we have to ask why.

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

Once we know, especially as women know, that we can define and become ourselves without relating to the other we are dangerous. We have crawled out from under yet another societal rule that keeps us hidden, ever striving (and therefor ever tired), and small.

I am a dangerous woman now.

I choose to be the Empress.
I choose to be sensual.
I choose to be sexually free.
I choose to create deep connections.
I choose to express my passion.

All without anyone’s help or permission.

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

I don’t want this post to be about rugged individualism and refusing connection. Connecting is one of the best parts of being human. (So many good things about connecting that I just want to gush!) But we must also know ourselves as ourselves. This is one of the most beautiful paradoxes of being human- the need for connection and individuation. It is a dance of learning to love both.





Empress ::: Rising

bathtub filling with water, candles at the side, and a woman's thighs peeping above the water


Blackbird singing in the dead of night
Take these broken wings and learn to fly

I know now how the butterfly feels in her cocoon. So recently a caterpillar. Knowing she had to find her way into darkness. And then coming apart. Completely apart.

Unraveling into a fiery soup of all the pieces and puzzles of herself. What will stay? What will go? What new will I become?

I careen in spirographs of release, grief, fear, confusion, hope, joy, dreams. It is draining. But the only thing to do is keep going. [Surrender? Yes. Quit? No.]

And then that new song played on the radio and I knew exactly what I was becoming. The pulse pulled together all that was still useful and all that was about to be.

Just like that, inside my cocoon, I swayed and giggled myself into who I am becoming. A new rhythm. Slower. Breathing. Healed. Loved.

All your life
You were only waiting for this moment to arise.

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

Blackbird singing in the dead of night
Take these sunken eyes and learn to see

I know why they think we are witches. We get into a steaming hot tub of water and 20 minutes later we come out different.


We are magic, you know. We are divine magic, ladies. We transform ourselves all the time.

|No wonder we are frightening. Only a rare strength can match us.|

I will claim my magic, my divinity [between my legs]. I will own it. I transform.

I am who I am and no other. If you cannot honor me, you don’t deserve me.

All your life
You were only waiting for this moment to be free.

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

Blackbird fly
Blackbird fly
Into the light of the dark black night

This is how the Empress rises.

Out of a dark pool of water.

Into the dark night.

Dancing naked with the moon.

Owning her self + her journey + her power.


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

Men may resurrect inside caves. Where they can break dead bones and create and yell and reverberate and re-vibrate into a newer version of themselves.

But women do not resurrect. They are reborn. We birth in water. In dark. Behind the thicket. With the moon. And the nocturnal creatures to lend energy and safety.

This is not Christian Easter, it is the wild Ostara.