I was searching for slide materials for my upcoming talk on Sexual Dysfunction for a group of physicians next month when I came across the first image I have ever seen of the interior of the clitoral organ system. I was in my late 40s the first time the clitoris was imaged and it wasn’t until the mid 1990s that the clitoris was medically understood as an organ system and not just a single glans on the top of the vagina. I have been thinking about the clitoris a lot lately because I am still trying to figure out how Good Clean Love can be instrumental in stopping the archaic practice of clitoral circumcision, a practice performed on over 100 million women on the planet. Actually, it is performed on girls, little girls, who don’t even know what it means to be sexual. Often it is the girl’s mother who brings her to a midwife to cut off her ability to feel sexually, because it is a widely held belief that a woman who experiences pleasure is both unclean and unmarriageable.
Join Wendy while she works to master the art, study the science and discover the practice of positivity one day at a time. The growing body of scientific research in positive psychology proves without a doubt that shifting your thinking habits from negative to positive creates a thriving life. When you train yourself to remain open, curious and lean towards wonder, surprise, gratitude and occasional moments of awe, the way you see your life changes the life itself.
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I have been growing a sexual health company for ten years. I started it in my home and then when it grew past the capacity of sharing with my kids, moved it into another residential space in town. It kept its home business feel, where we have dogs and kids and a lawn to mow. But recent developments in our quickly expanding distribution have made it clear that the home business phase is over.
So I set out to find a public space, with a small store front, a place to invite in sexual health experts, and to expand our mission of increasing the quantity and quality of loving relationships into our community. There are only a handful of retailers in this country and none in our state that elevate the business of sexuality to the health concern that it is. I know them all because they are our customers. These stores serve as essential resources for physicians, and counselors, as well, as for the public.
It seems like forever since I have written my positivity quest. The silence is weighing on me. It became really clear to me tonight when I received a comment about a post I had written after the death of a dear friend. The comment came from one of my friend’s art students who said that his life would not have been the same without her. However, it is that we make our mark in the world matters more than we can imagine as we move through the days of our lives.
A couple of weeks ago when I was in a training at the Ceres Project they told us that they spend 25% of their time appreciating both what they have accomplished and the incredible amount of volunteer time, donations and good will that allowed it to happen. I was seriously struck by the 25% number and started to feel a little guilty about not being more appreciative for the thousands of hours of student volunteer time, the incredible generosity of community businesses, as well as the beauty and creativity that these companies have brought into the courtyard. So I decided to plan an Appreciation Celebration. Often, we wait too long to tell people how grateful we are. The idea that we need things to be finished or look perfect keeps us from focusing on how much has already been completed. Just making the list of all the people who gave their time and energy filled me with a deep appreciation of just how generous life can be. I can often be overwhelmed by this project and feel like I am carrying this heavy weight by myself, but as I started to list all the things that everyone gave and did, I realized that while my focused attention has been essential to moving forward, we really can do nothing on our own.
Life can easily become overwhelming. I have a knack for attracting more into a couple of hours than most people would consider in a couple of days. Today I got the physical evidence of how too much of a good thing is actually too much, but can also remain a good thing. As those of you who follow my positivity quest know, I have been leading a Positive Change high school club and creating a positivity memorial courtyard for the last two years. It has been a project that has taught me more about the real work of positivity than all that I thought I knew from reading and writing.
“Emotional discomfort, when accepted, rises, crests, and falls in a series of waves. Each wave washes parts of us away and deposits treasures we never imagined. No one would call it easy, but the rhythm of emotional pain that we learn to tolerate is natural, constructive, and expansive. It’s different from unwilling suffering the way the sting of disinfectant is different from the sting of decay; the pain leaves you healthier than it found you.” -Martha Beck
I am working to stay with the lessons from last week when life stood still thanks to my head that would not turn. Dealing with pain is an honorable way to spend time. It does indeed work on us like the waves of the ocean on a shore line- washing away the unnecessary and surprising us with unexpected wonders from its depths. The freedom I have in my neck this week is matched by a lightening of the weight in my relationship with my father. Letting go is as easy as opening up to it, but it also requires that we are willing to pay attention to and feel what we are releasing.
Last week when I was immobilized from an emotional neck injury that required me mostly to lay on my back, to move slowly with great attention and to embrace how painful living in a body can be, I learned a few things that I feel determined to hold onto now that my body is fully functional. The first and most important lesson is the utter and complete sense of gratitude I have for all the millions of ways that our bodies work for us. Often, it is injury and physical limitation that shows us how much freedom of movement we take for granted. We don’t realize how well we felt until we are sick. Pain is a funny thing. When you are in it, you can’t remember ever feeling well, and when it is over, you can’t remember how intense it was.
One of my regular stops during the week is in the weight room at my local gym. This is a place where I tap into true optimism about humanity. The best days of the week are usually the ones in which I start out early with my new strength- training workout, which I learned from the boys’ athletic trainer at our local high school. Partly, I am inspired by the ways in which, after just a few weeks, I can track my own progress and witness myself getting stronger in yoga, as well as daily activities like lifting two boxes at a time instead of one. But what is even more inspiring in the early morning hours at the gym is watching the wide range of other gym members, each of whom are leading themselves through challenging routines of weight lifting and arduous core workouts.
I am not sure if it is a primarily Western mentality that presumes that life will be easy and as an extension it will require little effort. In fact, we belittle work as an encumbrance, instead of recognizing it for the value it brings to who we become as people. This phenomenon is true in many places in life, but none so much as in the world of relating. For some odd reason, we have collectively never identified or taught the truth about the significant work involved in relating to each other. In both work and personal relationships, we are continuously shocked that relating successfully requires so much attention, patience and resilience.
Here’s the thing to know about love. Sometimes it feels great, like a sunny day in the Northwest after 26 days of rain; but sometimes it feels like the early stages of flu- unsettled, achy, and a loss of appetite. Okay, well maybe not as bad as the flu, but love lives can be irritating, like an insect bite that keeps itching. This is good to know about love because it allows you to have reasonable expectations, that love will not fix you or your life- it will keep you interested in life and if it is good, keep you honest and trying to be yourself.