Charla’s Blog

A Bonobo Moment

I just spent time watching our closest ape relatives, the Bonobos, at the San Diego Zoo. Just a couple of feet from me behind the glass, an adolescent Bonobo sat with his legs spread open, scooping warm sand and pouring it over his erect penis–then he’d stand up, shake off, sit back down and do it again.  The human children watching next to me were jumping up and down, laughing and asking Mama to look.

 

After an hour of observing delightful Bonobo shenanigans, I witnessed at least a dozen episodes of casual sexual touch.  I saw simulated intercourse several times (lasting only a few brief moments).  Sometimes after a doggie style go-at-it (was it real, I wasn’t sure?) the two participants would completely reverse positions of humper and humpee–and within seconds go-at-it again.  I thought, how many of us would like to try that?!

 

I saw one ape reached out and stroke the genitals of another as s/he (?) passed by.  Neither seemed to make a big deal of it, or even notice.  Mostly I noticed the family pod (about fourteen) simply spend their time grooming each other, looking around, watching others play, cuddling, and napping with their bodies intertwined.  Not only in the zoo, but in the wild African rain forest (Demo. Rep. of Congo), these foragers spend only a couple hours ‘working’ and the rest is leisure. Gee, when did we get too busy for this kind of life?

 

These good-natured critters and are rarely observed in conflict.  Bonobos sometimes copulate face to face, even though it last only about fifteen seconds. Scientists have recently determined that these apes, smaller and darker than chimpanzees, are their own species. They are biologically more related to us than chimps–actually we’re more like Bonobos than any other thing on this planet! So the mellow ‘chimp’ on the Johnny Carson Show was really a Bonobo!  Unlike chimps, Bonobos would rather make love than war, and when needed, they simply offer themselves in a submissive sexual position. Sex seems to be the social glue for their peaceful existence.

 

The San Diego Zoo is one of only eight zoos in our country that have these critically endangered primates. They have two pods so each pod gets some private time and are on ‘display’ only every other day. The zoo keeper saw my fascination and informed me I’m not the only one.  Middle school teachers bring their students to study the behavior of our endearing relatives. What a great lesson for adolescents in sexuality ‘outside the box!’  I was encouraged that we can still observe our natural pan-sensuality antics before we imposed layers of protocol, judgment and shame.

 

So, do I want to host a Bonobo Party when I return to Austin?  As a sex educator and coach I still believe in getting permission, and that means a clear ‘yes’ before any touching (or hug even).  I believe one earns the privilege of touching another’s body.  Consensual Touch builds trust so you can go deeper.  I don’t want  someone grabbing my genitals as I pass by.  When it comes to my body, I don’t want surprises–I want agreement.

 

I would like to give a party in the Spirit of the Bonobos–our closest cousins–with their playful touching, grooming, voyeurism, and sexing. We humans are the sexiest of all species (read Sex at Dawn, by Ryan and Jetha), and we are designed for ecstasy (and peace)!  We humans get the best of all worlds; we get to express our desires…and fantasies!  We get to choose our boundaries…and change our minds!  We get to negotiate when it comes to sex…and fine tune the touch we receive! We get to create erotic partnerships and communities that feel safe and consensual.  We’re the Naked Bonobos and more!

 

Tantra Massage: Slowing Down to the Speed of Love

At the end of a couples intimacy or partner massage class I’m always amazed at how my body feels.  I’m touched by what my students say in the closing circle, “I’m happy to be alive, I’m aware of being love, I feel peace through my whole body.” I notice how the faces have softened in just a few hours. Gratitude envelopes the circle of not-so-long-ago strangers, and we speak of soulful things in whispery tones.

 

As the teacher I witness the most tender and vulnerable moments between partners. I lead and observe couples in simple but profound interactions of truth and transparency. I’m reminded how ready we all are to access another way of being, a slower reality, where the body leads and the mind becomes the observer.  So rich and rare are these times we feel delighted when they happen.  We relish this timeless and treasured space that feels so natural.

 

As I witness the locked engagement of couples (whether they have know each other for 30 minutes or 30 years) I realize the power we possess as humans to transform our reality one moment at a time. I am nourished  by what I experience–the natural sensuality, attention, and deep caring we long to share with each other.  Our communal joy is just waiting to surface, just longing to spring forth, just waiting for the slightest permission–and we’re there!

 

Rarely do we spend a whole evening together being instead of doing, showing up instead of showing off, connecting instead of performing.  The precious moments when we slow down to the Speed of Love, we once again remember who we are.  We remember our birthright as human beings.  We let our breath flow, our mind relax, and become aware of our shared Lived Body.

Uncle Bob is Dressing like a Lady

I just returned from visiting my Uncle Bob who at age 85 has started dressing as a “Lady.” My Aunt Eleanor died about a year and a half ago and he says, “I’ve always lived as others expected of me. I only have a small time left, and now I want to be me.” He certainly makes a handsome older lady in a tasteful dress, wig, makeup, and jewelry.  I noticed he had renewed energy and looked healthier since my last visit two years ago. I interviewed him with my video camera and even captured him and Mom, his 87 year old sister-in-law, playing cards like old times.

He told me how girls get the best clothes and a rustling silk skirt and air around your legs is cooling and wonderful in the Florida heat. He wore trousers the other day and couldn’t wait to get home to take them off. He shared with me his theory about men’s pockets versus women’s purses. Uncle Bob, who walks with a cane due to an accident many years ago, still sported Dorothy-of-Oz red high heels on the day we visited. “They make me feel good,” he said with a smile. He pointed to his smooth legs and mentioned that wearing nylons had healed the sores on his legs–my mother was amazed!

He shared stories with me about growing up on a farm in the Midwest with his two brothers who were much older than he, and that his parents had wanted a girl. His brothers did the farming with Dad while he helped his mom with the cooking and gardening. Gardening is still his favorite hobby.

He was excited for Mom and I to meet his favorite caretaker, Barbara, “a cute, young English girl of sixty,” he winked. He joked that he cleans his house before she comes over so they can spend their time socializing and going out. Barbara shows up wearing a flouncy skirt and gives Bobbie a new lace blouse and matching chiffon skirt she’s purchased for him. Over lunch I could feel their mutual affection; she was drawn to this well-traveled, courageous, and genuinely compassionate woman.

Uncle Bob, (it’s still hard for me to call him Bobbie unless we’re out somewhere), noticeably chokes up when remembering Eleanor. I asked him what’s most important in his life, he replied,” family.” His daughter, Mary Kay, said he was always the softer of her parents and smiles, “My dad was there for me when I decided to get a divorce.”

He’s proud that he was a good father and husband to two beautiful women (his first wife died mid-life.) I asked him what he’d most enjoy today and he said, “To be asked to play cards, shop, and talk with the Ladies of his trailer park.” He sighed deeply, “I miss being touched, I got so much of it with Eleanor. You don’t know how much  the hug that you and your mom gave me means!”  I vowed to give him even a longer hug when saying goodbye.

Additional note:  I would love help in editing the video tape I took of my visit with Uncle Bob, his daughter, and my mom who traveled the Amazon with Eleanor and Bob. I’d like to make a short documentary to encourage all of us to live freely, embrace our true selves, and inspire others. If you have video editing skills and are interested, please give me a call, 512-626-5037.

After the Cuddle Party

I brought my boyfriend to his first Cuddle Party. I was in training to be a Cuddle Party leader and the first evening of the training was an actual party for trainers and friends. Though I had attended a couple other cuddle-like experiences at different professional meetings (I’m an intimacy coach and sacred sexuality teacher), I had never brought someone I was dating to a Cuddle Party.

I knew being an attractive man that several of the pretty girls would engage him in cuddling—probably more their idea than his because he’s very shy and inexperienced with women (actually a turn on to me and at the same time a frustration). Sure enough, out of my peripheral vision and between my own cuddling experiences, I stole glances at him. I witnessed my boyfriend in locked attention, gently touching, and holding another woman in his strong arms—actually, he cuddled both of these beautiful women over the course of the evening.

I could only imagine what they were saying as they basked each other in full and tender attention. I saw my lover’s soft yet penetrating gaze, only this time given to someone else. From a distance I witnessed his quiet and confident composure, intent on being deeply connected to each of life’s experiences. I saw the women’s reactions to this Scorpio man, relishing in the strong, safe container of presence and attention he provided, and nourished by the touch of a man with a deep reservoir of feelings and kindness. Yes, I knew what they were feeling. Even from a distance I felt “taken in.”

But I held the trump card. I was the woman who would get to take this man home at the end of the evening. And that I did, royally. Later that night in bed by candlelight, with his cock deep inside me he instinctively moved between stillness and slow penetrating strokes. I looked into his eyes and a strange thing happened. Time stood still. I saw beyond the particulars of our time and space into a new awareness. He became the Divine God of Creation and I, Queen of the Nile. Our ancient dance spanned the Creation of the Cosmos and stretched beyond the yet-to-be-born. In this archetypal union, we became mere players in the primordial pulse of an expanding and contracting Universe. I looked through his eyes directly into the vortex of being.

I reflect with wonder upon our lovemaking that night and how the personal became so much larger. Can witnessing our beloveds loving others spawn a larger view of love? Can we learn things in the company of others that two people behind closed bedroom doors could never achieve? Can we love each with a bigger love that goes beyond our personal dramas and touches the Divine?

Seeing my lover be tenderly appreciated by others offered me an unexpected perspective. Instead of my past judgments about him being somewhat awkward and inexperienced around women, I saw him for the eternally and innately curious, sensual, and sensitive man he is….and who we all are really. In sharing my man, he came back to me richer, fuller, and deeper than ever.

Enticing a Reluctant Partner

As an intimacy coach I run across men who want to involve their partner but don’t know how to introduce the idea. Or I run across women who want to come to a couple’s workshop, but think their boyfriend won’t. Face it; intimacy is scary, especially if it’s not your idea. We’re not sure what it means, what will be asked of us, if we’ll measure up, or if it means getting more of what already isn’t working (like more of the same sex).

Whew! Most of us are in the dark about what intimacy means. We go to school in everything else—but who teaches us sensual truthfulness, vulnerability, and to love our body? We’re so busy with work; relationships get only the crumbs left over from a too busy, stressed day. and the insidious team, Shame and Silence, has run show so long we don’t even recognize them. None of us were taught pleasure can heal and that desires are good. So how can you turn a relationship that’s spiraling down to one spiraling up in sensuality, spontaneity, and pleasure?

Here’s how it happened to me. I got a handmade (OK, computer-generated) note from my husband inviting me to a homemade dinner (by HIM!) and a movie (surprise) the next weekend. Do you think I accepted? He had my attention, and he supplied no more details the ensuing days—not even the menu. The evening arrived and he busied himself IN THE KITCHEN (very sexy) and I was curious. After a sensual candlelit dinner where I felt like a teenager again, he popped in a DVD– Ancient Secrets of Sacred Loving, a beautiful documentary (now 10 years old and timeless) on Tantra–Sacred Loving, filmed in nature under waterfalls. I had never heard of Tantra and was fascinated at the positive approach, feminine slant, to being sensual (more so than sexual) with a lover. I never saw him again with the same eyes…and our loving transformed!

So take the initiate, be brave, and step out. Men, tell your woman you want to learn how to love her better and how to give her more of what she deserves. Bring home a book from the sexuality section of a bookstore, like Erotic Massage, or 8 Erotic Nights or many other good ones, because you were thinking of her. Babysit the kids, clean the house, cook supper, so she can enjoy an evening reading with you. Tell your beloved you want to share a life together that’s more gracious, giving, sensuous and you want to learn how to do it with her. Say you want to discover the heart of soul of loving a woman, so when you die you will have known true ecstasy—and you want to go there with HER (or him if you’re a woman). Suggest intimacy classes and retreats such my Valentines Lovers Weekend at Serenity Spa Wimberley this February. Start at an entry level with no nudity, and sensual (not sexual) activities in a romantic setting. Assure her that her choices are always respected, and that you understand feeling safe comes before feeling sexy.

Break the Shame and Silence of the status quo, if you don’t, who will, and what have you got to lose? If she (or he) says ‘no’ let her know you do not want to say no to your own sensual exploration into spiritual loving, so what options are open for you? Loaded question, huh? Since when is it OK to decide for another person the course of their sensual discovery? That can make a good discussion. Remind her (him) that you want to start at home because that is where the love it. Yes, intimacy can shake your world, and it will. Charla, the Intimacy Imp

How to Invite a Lover Over

The phone rang, it was my sexy California Lover.  I imagined him saying, “Honey, I miss you. I want you here. Please, come to California and spend Thanksgiving with me?” And being generous, he would add, “I’ll take care of your plane ticket.” (Because it’s a man’s world when it comes to money.) And to complete my fantasy invitation (and jump his bones when I get there), he’d throw in a teaser, “And I have a surprise for you.”

But that’s not how my lover “invited” me over.  He said, “Sounds like you don’t have any plans for Thanksgiving…You’d probably like to get out of Austin…I got invited over to dinner with friends…and I think they may want to meet you…”

Blah.  I wasn’t getting invited the way I wanted; and an invitation sets up the meeting!  What’s an Intimacy coach to do? Long ago I gave  up hoping men could read my mind, and resenting them when they didn’t. I knew this was an educating moment—and lovers, if you say you’re tired of educating, I say go ahead and suffer—the rest of your life! I stepped up to the plate.

“Dear,” I drew in a deep breath on my side of the phone, “I don’t want an invitation to be about saving me, or even about meeting other people. I want you to reach out to me, be vulnerable in your desire to be with me, and offer ways to make it happen.”  Whew, I said it. Gulp. It felt right…and solid—I had that unmistakable feeling of honoring myself.  In the following silence, I could feel the electricity between us and in my body.  Teasingly I added, “And I’m likely to say yes to the first sexy man who so invites me–and I hope it’s you.”

The balls in his court. Shut up. Relationships are full of choices. I said what I wanted; it doesn’t mean I get it. If he doesn’t give me what I want, I know it’s not about me, it’s about him. Sounds grownup, huh?

With a little prompting, I got the invitation (and plane ticket) I wanted and jumped his bones when I got there!  I invite you, dear reader, to be vulnerable when you invite someone over–expose your needs and desires, they are good not bad. And however the chips fall, feel proud that you took care of yourself by asking by asking for what you want.  Who knows, you just may get it!  I’ll leave you guessing as to what his surprise was–and I had one for him, too! Happy Inviting from the Invitation Wizard, Charla

When a Relationship Ends

Recently a friend in pain came to me for help. She was suffering from ending a love relationship. I got to thinking, every intimate relationship I’ve ever had (except the one I’m in now) has ended.  Some with ease, most with trauma. Why are we so good at starting relationships–good at falling in love, yet so bad at endings?

We’ve all grown up with a difficult box to fit into: We’ve learned the one right way to do intimate relationships: we’re supposed to love one person, and only one, exclusively, forever, till we die. When many close relationship don’t follow this last-forever myth, we think we’ve failed. Relationship becomes a destination instead of a process. And if we discount this model we feel shamed and lesser.

To help my hurting friend (and myself) I dug out a book that saved me when I was going through a difficult divorce (and I have used it several times since.) Daphine Kingma in Coming Apart says there are always legitimate and understandable reasons why relationships end. When we can recognize what purpose has been fulfilled by the relationship, we can end the relationship consciously, compassionately, and heal. Kingma suggests we choose our relationships according to the developmental tasks we encounter at different stages of our lives so that we may grow and self-actualize into larger, loving beings.

She laid out a step-by-step, engaging Ritual for Parting which helped me stop the usual emotional battering and blaming.  I actually started having fun with the simple exercises and began to regain myself by incorporating what I had learned from the relationship. I stopped calling my divorced spouse my “x”; instead I called him either by name, or “a friend, former partner, or father of my child.” I realized I didn’t have to hate him in order to leave; I could love him still. Furthermore, I could appreciate what developmental tasks he help me learn so I could love again—even better, and more profoundly. I looked at my own role in our coming apart–without judgment. I found grace and healing at a difficult time.

Ending a relationship is one of the most difficult experiences we encounter. Kingma’s Ritual for Parting took me through a process that invited growth, self-empathy, and discovery. I invited my newly-solo friend to be loving to herself and ask “What new frontiers am I ready to explore with a new partner that I was unable to before? What is my development task right now and what do I need from a new partner?  How am I more capable now at getting my needs met than before?” Endings can be done well; this is our challenge. Maybe they’ll never be as attractive as beginnings, but they can carry their own dignity, grace, and wisdom.

My big O Birthday

On the eve of celebrating a birthday, one easily becomes introspective and even a little somber.  Birthdays, especially the decade ones, are milestones to measure how we are moving away or towards our life’s purpose.

I’ve noticed how my work in Sacred embodiment has changed my body in a short five years.  I feel heightened sensations, more vibrations, flutters up and down my legs, streaming and openness in my body when being touched or touching a partner.  I feel a melty glow in my core and zinging on the bottoms of my feet.

I appreciate that the sense of touch only becomes more acute and transparent as we age.  We learn to tame the mind and open the senses.  Men slow up and want more intimacy; women stop apologizing for their natural eroticism.  The common ground between the sexes grows.  Maturity brings consciousness, appreciation, and truth to our loving.

Parents would do well to tell their teenagers,”Yes, sex is cool when your young–but you’ll get your best loving as you mature so you don’t have to be in a hurry.”  Sexual peak is not about hormones, it’s about a profound, ecstatic giving and receiving of your authentic self–and that grows with age.

So on the eve of my birthday I have much to celebrate–a body natually wired for ecstasy and my sincere commitment to experience it more profoundly with each passing day.

Flirt–because you can!

Want to feel younger, juicier, more spontaneous and sexy? Why not exercise your flirt muscle? Flirt because you can, it doesn’t hurt any one and will bring untold joy!

 

Flirting is attention without intention (or coercion) It’s a gift you give yourself and others.  It will replenish your self esteem and fun-index. The more you give away, the more you get. Try sending out your special juice, your unique “take” on the moment, and your “spark” to whoever and wherever you are.

 

Flirt with the clerk behind the counter, the waiter, the man on a bicycle, or the little old lady next to you in line–heck, flirt with the neighbor’s cat!   Flirt because it’s a joy to give away your sparkle which will come back bigger each time you send it out.  You never know what your smile may mean to someone who’s just lost a friend, got bad results back on a medical test, or fears loosing a lover.

 

I like sparking the imagination of others–and mine, ha!  Flirting reminds me of who is in charge of my turn-on–ME!  Who gets my juices running–ME!  Who has a sassy, savvy self–ME! Plus, when I was younger I thought flirting was bad, so now I feel just a little naughty being so unapologetically bold!

The Kissing Game: Taking Turns at the Lead

If you’d like to spend a great 30 minutes with your lover get out a timer and share this Kissing Game. Often just the man (less often the woman) leads the kissing show and things can get predictable. Here’s a way to trade off the lead in order to stir the pot for adventure.

The idea of the Kissing Game is to stay true to yourself while kissing your partner. You both practice doing it your way which tells your partner information about your turn-ons. For 10 minutes each you will take turns being active and passive, or kisser and kissee. When you only have one thing to do, you can do it better—rather it’s being in charge or letting it go. Simplicity can increase our interest and pleasure.

Taking turns also gives each partner the chance to lead or design the show. Often the woman lets the man lead because traditionally she sees her role as responding in sex. She may become bored with kissing and not know why. (Most likely if one partner is bored the other is too.) She may not know that becoming the active role, or kisser, will spice up the show. Of course the man needs to be able to relax into the “kissee”, being-done-to role, and then presto! Most men love it when a woman takes charge, and there’s nothing sexier than a woman taking her own pleasure

When you are the kissee (receiving the kisses), set the timer for ten minutes, make yourself comfortable, offer a slightly open mouth for the kisser’s exploration, and do not react by moving. Close your eyes and tune in to your sensations. Breathe. When you are the kisser (giving the kisses), kiss only the face and neck without touching the rest of the body, and find new ways to explore the sensations of your mouth and tongue for your pleasure.

Kissing tips: Discovery by tongue is a tender, playful journey. Start out slowly and leisurely with your kissing. How lightly can you kiss? With a relaxed, soft mouth, graze over her cheeks, hair line, and facial features by barely touching the skin. Trace the eyebrows with soft lips or tongue. Tenderly kiss the tip of the nose, the corners of the lips, and the contour of the ear. The mouth is so sensitive that less is more. Your attitude is inquisitive—playing a new game with each kiss. Once you reach the mouth, kiss lightly without your tongue at first. Hard and wet mouth mauling misses the point.

Decide active/passive roles first, take a breath mint, and set the timer for ten minutes. End with a heart salutation, with your hands in prayer position at your heart and bow in gratitude for heartfelt kisses.  Set the timer for two minutes and Kissee tells kisser what s/he liked best about the kisses. Listen well, this is great information to become a better lover. Switch roles for another ten minutes of heaven. Again take two minutes to tell your partner what you liked best about her/his kisses.