December 15, 2017

Cancer, Your Body, Trust and Love

Barbara Musser, Sexy Saturdays blog, breast cancer, intimacy after breast cancer, breast cancer and sensuality, cancer and sex

So many of us disconnect from ourselves at different times when we are coping with cancer, treatments, side effects, side effects of side effects, trauma and grief. It’s the experience of losing our essence or forgetting our essence and then forgetting that we’ve forgotten. I believe that it’s crucial to reconnect with our essential self and to discover what our essence has to reveal to us. The dimming of our essence is like the dimming of the sun, we can become brittle and angry or very sad. There’s so much grief with this and it’s healing to welcome it and experience it.

Many women tell me that they’ve lost their libido, feeling beautiful or sexy or any interest in intimacy and sex. Our sexual energy is our life force energy. This can affect our moods, energy levels, happiness and brain. What to do about this? There’s lots of ways to help you get aligned and integrated and it all begins with you trusting you ~ your body, your heart, your spirit and your mind. Until we begin to trust ourselves again, nothing can shift.

I invite you to experiment with the practice described in this video. We have great wisdom in our pelvic bowl, our womb, which is the source of life. And our hearts are radiant with love. When the womb and heart are in communication and communion trust emerges. Tenderness for yourself can arise, tears may flow, anger may erupt. Whatever your experience, welcome it and trust it, let it lead you to where you need to go.

 

© 2016 by Barbara Musser, Sexy After Cancer.
For more resources, go to SexyAfterCancer.com

This blog reflects my personal opinions. It is not meant to serve as medical advice of any kind. Any questions about your health and sexuality should be directed to a licensed physician or therapist. Any opinions expressed are solely those of the writer.

Adornment and Pleasure

barbarabanner

Clothing and adornment can bring great pleasure if the purpose is to please yourself and love yourself. Most of us don’t think this way when we dress for the day or evening. We may take a quick look in the mirror and check to see if there are wrinkles or if we look fat ~ usually with a critical eye.

What if you dress to please yourself, knowing that different textures, colors and styles can create pleasure? If you did, how would you dress? Would you wear make-up and jewelry?

For today, choose to adorn you for you, as if you knew that you were all that matters. The truth is that you are all that matters. How you feel about you is what creates how you experience life. Try on the belief that you are beautiful and deserve to experience pleasure in all forms, including what you put on your body.

From this perspective, look in your closet and see what draws your attention. Put it on and see notice how you feel… does your skin like what you’ve chosen? How do you look to the loving you? What emotions are you feeling? Are you having fun?

Do you want to further adorn your body with accessories, jewelry or make-up? If so, do what pleases you. How do you want to style your hair? What shoes?

Once you’re pleased with how you feel and look, take yourself out for tea. Go on a date with you. Go to a place that brings you pleasure. Maybe there’s a local tearoom that you like. Go there. Or wherever strikes your fancy.

Wherever you choose to go, go with pleasure in mind. Choose a drink that brings you pleasure as you look at it, taste it and consume it.

Something as simple as pleasing yourself ~ who knew? As you sip your drink, let your mind wander to what else will bring you pleasure. You may be surprised as what comes to mind. Pay attention, because the whole idea is pleasure, my dear!

I’d love to hear what brings you pleasure. Please share with us so that we can all celebrate your pleasure and get more ideas for our own pleasure!

© 2014 by Barbara Musser, Sexy After Cancer.
For more resources, go to SexyAfterCancer.com

This blog is not meant to serve as medical advice of any kind. Any questions about your health and sexuality should be directed to a licensed physician or therapist. Any opinions expressed are solely those of the writer.

Erotic Movement and Flow

barbarabanner

Do you feel self-conscious about your body and how it moves? Are you awkward in your own skin? Would you like to feel more freedom in your body? More pleasure?

Sometimes movement brings great pleasure. For example, I love taking a brisk walk in a beautiful place, breathing deeply and feeling the motion of my body as I feel the earth under my feet, the sun on my skin and the kiss of the breeze on my cheek. I feel in flow with the earth at such times. That flow brings me great pleasure and freedom.

Here’s another movement practice for an experiment ~

Find some music that has a beat that appeals to your body, music that has you want to get up and move. It might be slow and sensual, have a dance beat, or a primal beat. Play the music loud and stand in the middle of the room. Close your eyes and give yourself to the music. As you stand and breathe, begin to feel the music in your cells and bones. Bring your awareness into your body and let it begin to move to the music. See if you can become one with the music, merging into the sounds and flow and rhythms. Let your physical rhythm be that of the music.

If you think you can’t dance, don’t think of this as dance. It’s a flow, a movement meditation to the sounds and energy of the music. Let yourself go, breathe, move and have fun.

You may find that you want to keep going after the song ends. If so, great, keep going. If you’ve had enough, sit and relax. Either way, when you stop moving, sit with your eyes closed and scan your body. Notice your breathing. Is it rapid, deep and full or shallow? How does your body feel? Tingly? Loose? Tight? Relaxed? Excited? Vibrating? Pay attention to what’s happening and how it feels.

Our bodies want to move. Belly dancing was created as a way to ease the pain of childbirth and to bring women pleasure. There are forms of dance called ecstatic dance that are designed as meditations and move through different beats and rhythms. For some, being in the body in this way is a great pleasure and release. Try it and see what it is for you.

Please share your experiences with us so that we can all learn together.

© 2014 by Barbara Musser, Sexy After Cancer.
For more resources, go to SexyAfterCancer.com

This blog is not meant to serve as medical advice of any kind. Any questions about your health and sexuality should be directed to a licensed physician or therapist. Any opinions expressed are solely those of the writer.

The Body Electric and Erotic

barbarabanner

Did you have fun with a flower or chocolate or something else last week? I hope so and I hope that you’re beginning to experience little flickers (or big waves) of erotic energy. It’s so fascinating when we slow down and open up, to see what pleasures await us.

Do you know that your skin is your largest organ? It is, and it’s filled with countless nerve endings, which provide so much input. You probably already know some ways that this has changed in your body as a result of cancer treatments. Now you may have new or no sensation around scars or surgical sites, neuropathy, different sensations around hair loss and regrowth, to mention a few.

Are you dissociated from your body? It can happen easily as a coping strategy while going through treatment. Added to the dissociation that many women experience sexually, it can feel like there’s nobody home inside your body!

Going through life physically absent is one way, and I don’t recommend it. There’s much sensation and pleasure for us in our bodies and many ways to access these.

This week the invitation is to focus on the sensations in your skin. Take some time to stroke your skin with various types of touch ~ using only the pads on your fingertips very lightly, gently raking your skin with your fingernails, little taps on your skin to wake it up, deeper circular motions like massage, and any others that occur to you to try. Experiment with parts of your body that aren’t often touched including the backs of your knees, your elbows, your calves, and so on.

As you explore your skin, focus your awareness and attention on where the touch is happening and pay attention to the sensations. How does it feel? Do you feel pleasure both with your fingers or hands as well as the places being touched? Do you like touching or being touched better or are they the same? What helps you feel more present inside yourself? What do you love?

Getting to know your skin through touch and pleasure can be surprising. Notice what, if anything, surprises you and what you are learning about you. Please share it with us so that we can learn from you.

© 2014 by Barbara Musser, Sexy After Cancer.
For more resources, go to SexyAfterCancer.com

This blog is not meant to serve as medical advice of any kind. Any questions about your health and sexuality should be directed to a licensed physician or therapist. Any opinions expressed are solely those of the writer.

Pleasure in Your Body

barbarabanner

Today is about connecting with your body in new ways.  Are you up for discovering some new sensual and erotic sensations? I hope you say yes!

Begin by opening to the possibility of experiencing pleasure through all of your physical senses ~ touch, sight, sound, taste and smell. I suggest that you literally use your entire body and all your senses to experience pleasure.

Let’s do a sensing experiment. For the experiment we’ll explore a flower. Go to a florist and drink in all the sensory input ~ what do you see? How does it smell? How does your skin feel? What do you hear? Any taste sensations? Walk around the shop and let your senses guide you.

Choose a flower or two to take home for the remainder of the experiment. Ask the florist to wrap it in some beautiful paper and ribbon, as if you were buying a gift for your beloved ~ you are!

When you get home and unwrap the flower, spend some time with it. Begin by looking at the flower ~ what color is it? What type of flower did you choose? Is it beautiful? Take in as many visual aspects of the flower as you can and notice your experience.

Next, smell the flower. Wave it gently under your nose and inhale the perfume. Is it sweet? Clean? Pungent? Earthy?

Gently stroke your cheek with the flower ~ how does it feel? Velvety? Soft? Fuzzy? Smooth? Rough? Do the petals feel different than a leaf or the stem? Explore the feel of the flower in as many ways as occur to you.

Taste the flower! Is it sweet? Spicy? Bitter? Moist? Dry? Take a petal in your mouth and chew it gently. What happens when you do that? Do you salivate? Does the scent affect the taste?

Wave the flower near your ears. Is there a sound as it moves through the air?

Take a petal and crush it between your fingers. What does that feel like? Is a scent released that is different from before? What does it sound like?

What is your experience when you involve all your senses? Does your body feel more alive? Are you in your body or have you checked out? Does this seem silly or pointless? Is it sensual? Erotic? Flowers are the reproductive part of plants. Does knowing this affect your experience in any way?

Can you imagine involving all your senses as you explore your own body? What if you explored your hand in this way, using sight, smell, touch, taste and sound? Try it and see what happens, what you experience.

One aspect of eroticism is slowing things down. This allows you to be fully present with whatever you are experiencing. Sometimes we go so quickly that a day can pass by in a blur. What if you spent 5 minutes a day on being present, fully present?

Imagine doing this same experiment with chocolate, or a bubble bath? Please share your experiences with us!

© 2014 by Barbara Musser, Sexy After Cancer.

For more resources, go to SexyAfterCancer.com

This blog is not meant to serve as medical advice of any kind. Any questions about your health and sexuality should be directed to a licensed physician or therapist. Any opinions expressed are solely those of the writer.

Focusing on Pleasure and Your Relationship with You

barbarabanner

During the month of February I invited you into a daily practice of loving you ~ discovering ways to love you and treat you well. This month we’ll focus on your erotic relationship with you. So many women tell me that their sexual life wasn’t all that great before cancer came into the picture, and that now it hardly seems worth the effort.

Eroticism is much more than sex, at least sex that’s defined as penetrative genital sex, or intercourse. Eroticism encompasses more than libido, desire and intercourse. It involves the mind, the physical senses and being tuned in to the energy that’s all around us

The wiring can get crossed with cancer in the mix. As our bodies change during and after treatment, self esteem and acceptance can plummet. When we feel unattractive, we feel neither sexy nor desirable. We can pressure ourselves to get back into the swing of things sexually and ignore what our body is telling us in an attempt to feel like we did before. It’s complicated!

Dr. Meredith Chivers, a noted psychology professor at Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario who specializes in female sexuality, indicates just how complex desire can be. In her own words, Dr. Chivers found that, “Women are apparently disassociated from their bodies and have greater difficulty than men in connecting their own erotic responses to what they are actually feeling or desiring.” In other words, women’s genitals and brains operate on different tracks when it comes to sexuality.

Let’s look through the lens of eroticism and see what it takes to come back to association with our bodies and brains and to experience erotic pleasure. Sound good? This may feel like risky territory ~ I hope this is new ground and that it inspires you even if it’s a bit uncomfortable. Here we go!

The root of the word “erotic” is Eros, which is Greek for desire, specifically that which can inspire sexual desire. It also has to do with the contemplation of the aesthetics of sexual desire, sensuality and romantic love.  This quality can be found in any art form including painting, sculpture, photography, drama, dance, music, literature or film.

Stop and think about erotic art, and what is sensual to you? Do Georgia O’Keeffe’s paintings evoke erotic thoughts or feelings in you? Her bold images of flowers, which are the genitals of a plant, are filled with lush colors and shapes, curves and sensual flows. Or do other artists evoke erotic thoughts or feelings in you?

This week, spend some time with various art forms ~ go to a museum or a film, listen to music, read some literature, whatever appeals to you. Make it a point to experiment with different forms of art to notice, which appeal to you the most.  Let yourself be moved, or not, by these experiences and what begins to move inside you.

Pleasure involves all of our senses and it may not come directly from what we typically think of as sexual. Let your senses open and experience in new ways this week. And please share your experiences with us so that we can all be erotically inspired.

© 2014 by Barbara Musser, Sexy After Cancer.
For more resources, go to SexyAfterCancer.com

This blog is not meant to serve as medical advice of any kind. Any questions about your health and sexuality should be directed to a licensed physician or therapist. Any opinions expressed are solely those of the writer.

The Ultimate Expression of Loving You

barbarabanner

Now that it’s been a few weeks, how are you doing with your month of loving you? Did you accept the invitation? Are you having fun? What are you learning about loving you? My wish is that you love yourself and know that you are totally lovable.

In the spirit of you loving you and knowing that you are your permanent life partner, here’s a ceremony for you to perform to celebrate your love for you :

Using a full-length mirror, stand in front of the mirror, look into your eyes and say “I love you and I always will.” Please kneel on one knee, if you can do so without hurting yourself, and look into your eyes.  You are in this position for a very special reason.  You now have the opportunity to propose to yourself, to ask yourself to marry you, to spend all the rest of your life together, deeply committed to loving yourself.

Take a moment to look into the eyes of your beloved and say these words:

“As I grow deeper in love with you, I have come to know how truly magnificent you are.  I love the amazing qualities I see in you and I also love your human frailties. I celebrate your growth and want to be there for you in times of difficulty.  Will you marry me?”

After you accept, which I hope you do, you can stop kneeling so that you can sit comfortably, still making eye contact, now with your fiancee.

Let’s move forward in time to your Wedding Day.  If you’d like to dress up or have some flowers, please do. Stand in front of the mirror and look into your eyes.

Here you are at your own very special Wedding Ceremony looking into the eyes of your Beloved, and I have the privilege of performing this sacred ritual. Imagine me speaking these words:

Dearly Beloved,

We are gathered here to celebrate the sacred union of you with you.

Anyone who has just cause to believe this union should not take place, speak now or forever hold your peace.

Now repeat these words as you look into your eyes in the mirror:

I (say your name) promise to love, honor, respect, trust, and revere you all the days of my life; in sickness and in health; for richer and for poorer; in fear or in joy; accepting and loving what can often seem unacceptable or unlovable.  I hold this vow as a sacred purpose from this day forward.  I will always love you; I will never leave you.

By virtue of the powers invested in me by the Universe, I now pronounce you married.  You may now kiss your beloved.

Now the honeymoon begins, and my wish for you is that it lasts forever.

© 2014 by Barbara Musser, Sexy After Cancer.

For more resources, go to SexyAfterCancer.com

This blog is not meant to serve as medical advice of any kind. Any questions about your health and sexuality should be directed to a licensed physician or therapist. Any opinions expressed are solely those of the writer.

Menopause and Self-Love

barbarabanner

The other day I was in Starbucks for some tea and writing time. I love to write these blog posts in a place like that because I am often inspired by what I see around me. As I looked around I saw a woman with the most beautiful hair. It was short and very wavy, black in back and a streak of silver in the front that framed her forehead. I was mesmerized by her hair and beauty and kept looking at her. She didn’t notice because she was immersed in her smart phone.

As I was leaving I walked over to her and told her how much I loved her hair ~ the cut, style and color. I told her she’s beautiful.  She beamed and shared that she feels so many changes coming with menopause. Her hair, skin and body are all impacted and much of it surprises her. She thanked me for the reflection of her beauty.

Menopause is a turning point in life. We no longer have the ability to bear children. Our monthly blood no longer flows. Our skin and hair change. Gravity affects our body. I’ve read that when the function shifts from monthly bleeding to retaining our blood, it’s a time of coming into our own wisdom and creativity.

When menopause comes suddenly and early as a result of cancer treatments, we are plunged into this transformation, sometimes unaware and unprepared. How can we find the wisdom and creativity in it? How can we continue to know that we are beautiful and desirable? How can we feel sexy when the hormones aren’t flowing and libido changes?

During this month of self-love, I invite you to love your body and your sexuality as they are now. Lots of women tell me that their sex life wasn’t great before diagnosis and now it hardly seems worth the effort. This breaks my heart. It requires commitment and some effort, and the results can bring great pleasure.

One amazing thing about women is resilience. Our bodies are resilient even when they don’t work in the same ways as before. No matter how long it’s been since sex play felt good to you, you can change that. Here’s what you can do ~

  • Explore the terrain to know your starting point. Get to know what your tissue feels like and how delicate and flexible it is.
  • Put some lubricant on your index finger and gently insert it into your vaginal opening. Notice how that feels and then go in further with your finger. How far in can you go with your finger without any pulling or discomfort? Make note of this. Gently rotate your finger and notice any places where it feels uncomfortable.
  • Begin a daily genital moisturizing and massage practice*. Using a moisturizing lubricant (read the labels and look for one that is moisturizing), apply the lubricant to your vulva. You can also use an internal applicator and insert some lubricant inside your vaginal opening.
  • Using a press and release motion between your thumb and forefinger, gently massage the vulva, perineum and upper inner thighs. Use enough pressure so that your skin turns pink, but less than causes redness or pain. The purpose is to increase blood and lymphatic flow in the tissues.
  • Using a vibrating massage wand coated with lubricant, gently insert the want into your vaginal opening, turn it on and let it massage your inner tissues.
  • Follow this practice daily for 3-4 weeks and your tissues will become more moist and flexible.
  • Whether you choose to have penetrative sex play or not, this practice feels good. You can do it alone or with a partner.

* Note: to learn more about this program, adapted from The Vaginal Renewal Program, please go to http://www.a-womans-touch.com/sex_counselor.php?articleID=3069. You can download a brochure with a full description of this program.

© 2014 by Barbara Musser, Sexy After Cancer.
For more resources, go to SexyAfterCancer.com

This blog is not meant to serve as medical advice of any kind. Any questions about your health and sexuality should be directed to a licensed physician or therapist. Any opinions expressed are solely those of the writer.

Ch – Ch – Ch – Ch – Changes

barbarabanner

Yesterday morning while I was at boot camp grunting and sweating with effort, there was a moment of rest between two grueling sets of lunges. My workout partner said she’s feeling hammered by the twinges of oncoming menopause. She shared that she’s not only moody and bitchy, but that her body is changing in unexpected ways. Knowing that I’m a sex educator, she asked me if this is normal and what else may be coming her way. She doesn’t like surprises.

It was time for the next set of lunges so the conversation paused. As I lunged and grunted I reflected on the changes to our bodies and our sexuality that come with menopause. Whether it comes surgically, chemically or naturally, the transformation in our body is stunning. The suddenness of the onset when breast cancer treatments are the cause can feel like an earthquake.

bowieSo what’s a girl to do? The old David Bowie song, “Changes”, reverberates through me.  The chorus goes like this:

Ch-ch-ch-ch-Changes
(Turn and face the stranger)
Ch-ch-Changes
Don’t tell them to grow up and out of it
Ch-ch-ch-ch-Changes
(Turn and face the stranger)
Ch-ch-Changes
Where’s your shame
You’ve left us up to our necks in it
Time may change me
But you can’t trace time

Sudden menopause comes like a stranger, an uninvited and unexpected guest that has come to stay. We are changed by it. And what’s helpful is to embrace the changes rather than resist them. Face the stranger of menopause and welcome it.

Exercise and eat well to help with hot flashes. Get to know your intimate anatomy now that it works differently. How to do that?

Take an afternoon or evening for yourself. Light some candles and put on some music that helps you relax. Take a long hot bath in scented oil or bubbles and relax. Breathe deeply, all the way down into your pelvis. Close your eyes and imagine that you are pouring a golden elixir of love and kindness from the top of your head to the tips of your toes.

As the love infuses you take a gentle scan of your body. As you scan notice how it feels ~ where is it tight, numb, soft, relaxed, tense, painful, stiff, loose, and so on? As you scan, use your breath to help focus your attention on each part of your body as you scan it. Imagine that your breath brings that same energy of love and kindness as the golden elixir.  As you gently scan and love your body, let it relax and soften. Let the warmth of the water surround, soothe and support you.

After your bath, massage some oil or lotion into your skin and caress yourself as you apply it. Notice how it feels and especially where it feels good. Our entire body can be a pleasure zone. Imagine that you are anointing the body of a goddess. As you massage the oil into your skin, consciously honor all the ways your body has changed as a result of cancer and treatments.  Let your touch help you to integrate your body, mind and spirit as you love yourself with touch.

Come back next week for more about the Ch-Ch-Ch-Ch-Changes of menopause! You’ll be glad you did!

© 2014 by Barbara Musser, Sexy After Cancer.
For more resources, go to SexyAfterCancer.com

This blog is not meant to serve as medical advice of any kind. Any questions about your health and sexuality should be directed to a licensed physician or therapist. Any opinions expressed are solely those of the writer.

You are Your Lifetime Lover

barbarabanner

It’s February and the subject is love.  We’re awash in Hallmark moments about romance, hearts and flowers and little candy kisses with sweet messages.  Let’s take a deeper look at love, at self-love.

The truth is that love begins and ends with you and your relationship with yourself. You are your primary partner. How you feel about you shapes how you receive and give love. Sometimes we think that we’ll love ourselves when we know others love us. If we don’t feel loved, it’s easy to think that we’re unlovable and that only love from others can fill that emptiness. This is backwards. How we feel about ourselves is what we transmit to the world. When you are in love with you and loving you, you radiate love and it’s irresistible. You are irresistible.

For the month of February, my invitation and challenge is to love yourself fully, to believe that you are adorable, lovable and irresistible. Imagine what your life would be like if you felt totally loved all the time? This is the gift I’m inviting you to give to you.

Each day this month, explore a way to love yourself. Open your heart to you the way you open to the one/s you love most. Be generous with your love because you deserve to be adored. At first this may feel silly or awkward. Stick with it and be creative. Here are a few ideas to get you started ~

  • Write yourself a love letter. Tell yourself all the things you appreciate and love about yourself. Write it on beautiful stationery or a card and mail it. Hint: you can do this more than once and perhaps you’ll send you a Valentine!
  • Take yourself out on a date. Dress up for you so that you feel beautiful and go out for coffee, a movie, dinner or for a walk in a beautiful place.
  • Meditate on love. What does love mean to you? How do you know when you are loved? How can you be more loving with you? Open to receive what comes to you as you sit and contemplate these questions and any others than inspire you.
  • Buy yourself some gorgeous flowers, or send them to yourself. Include a love note with the flowers and when you look at them, remember how much you love you.
  • Each time you see your face in a mirror say “I love you” out loud.

Keep a love journal and each day write about your love practice and exploration for that day ~ what you did, how it felt and what you’re learning about loving you. Keep the journal in a special place and read it often to remind you of your love for you.

Please share some of the ways you are loving you so that we can be inspired by each other!

© 2014 by Barbara Musser, Sexy After Cancer.
For more resources, go to SexyAfterCancer.com

This blog is not meant to serve as medical advice of any kind. Any questions about your health and sexuality should be directed to a licensed physician or therapist. Any opinions expressed are solely those of the writer.