self-discovery

inner lives are sacred

My ears perked up when I heard her say, “You must nourish and protect your inner life.” She definitely was telling the entire damn truth. I knew all too well the value of being within oneself; I had learned self-love the hard way. What I learned the hard way is that our inner lives are sacred. It is on the inside where we sow our seeds, figuratively and literally even if you are not female bodied, it is on the outside where we harvest everything we’ve planted.

It is not possible to control the outside of yourself until you have mastered your breathing space. It is not possible to change anything until you understand the substance you wish to change. ― Jeanette Winterson

It wasn’t until I repeatedly, found myself standing in the ashes of what I once thought would feed my future, with nothing but a fistful of tears in my hands that I stopped focusing on the outside and went inside. I instinctively and as an act of self-preservation, went inside of myself to do the work that would ensure that no matter what life threw my way, that there would always be a positive to feed my soul and help me live another day. It was so much more than just thinking positive thoughts, doing acts of self-love, being with my emotions or focusing on myself; this was a new way of living thriving.

My tips for nourishing and protecting a sacred inner life that helps you thrive in today’s world.

  • Nourish Your Inner Life.

Feed your inner life the things that allow it to dream then expand. Nourishing your inner life requires being connected to the ebb flow of energy within you. For me, this diet mostly consists of music, books, relaxing seaside/mountainside getaways, moments of silence and conversations with people that listen without influencing but that gently nudge me towards the right decisions. My diet isn’t always low-key; who doesn’t eat something exotic or spicy once in awhile? Sometimes to nourish my inner life, I have to get my body moving vigorously. Yes, sometimes I feel the need to feast on action; running, biking, hiking and especially all things dancing. When I am in need of active nourishment, it also involves spending more time than usual around large groups of like-minded people, talking and laughing loud, sipping on our favorite drinks in a overcrowded bar or dancing the night away as sweat drips off our energized bodies. Just like the Earth has seasons our bodies have cycles, even if you are not female bodied, your soul has to adjust to the season within.

Fill yourself with all the delicious things you love and that inner voice will reward you with healthier thoughts and conversations that lead to bigger dreams. Feeding your inner life the best guarantees outer actions in a positive direction. Staying focused within, knowing exactly what kind of loving you need to keep you moving forward and balanced is the key to letting go of worry, struggle and pain. Believe me, as a person that spent too many years fighting depression, I know all too well that if you don’t feed yourself exactly what you need when you need it your inner world becomes a hell and your inner self an abused abusive demon.

You have to remember that no matter where you go there you always are. You cannot run from yourself. Your work, your lovers, your friends, your family, your parents…nobody can save you, except for you. You are the hero in your story. You have to be everything to yourself and guess what that means? That you have to feed yourself and then you have to protect yourself.

  • Protect Your Inner Life.

Protecting your inner life is where you’ll begin to get your hands dirty, how your real strength will emerge and when you’ll find out if you are cut out to be a hero. Not everyone is cut out for this; even the ones that are have moments when they can’t save themselves. Usually, if you can’t protect your inner life from other people it is because you are having trouble protecting it from yourself. Are you currently your own worst enemy? Focus on nourishing your inner life and do nothing but that.

Sometimes the only way you can protect your inner life is by doing nothing other than nourishing it. This is an especially radical subversive act when you are a parent but if you don’t provide yourself with what you need consistently more than likely you are not showing up fully as a parent. You might be doing a great job at being a parent but you are absolutely drained, exhausted and many times even resentful because you have been everything to your children without first being something to yourself. If you are married or in a relationship, these can also apply to you. Protect your inner life from yourself by doing less of the things you have to and more of the things you need to.

Too often protecting your inner life means shutting life suckers and energy vampires out of your life. As a High Priestess of Intuition, I often set bridges on fire just to keep people as far as possible from all that is good within me. Nourishing my inner life has given me a keen sensitivity for seeing which people have pure intentions and which ones have arrived to drain me. If you find yourself often complaining about someone in your life it is probably time for them to go. Cut that person off, tactfully is always best, then figure out what about you they were reflecting that you need to work on. These days whenever a person rubs me the wrong way, I first look really close to see what about them is triggering me. If following the trigger leads me to work that I have to do within myself, I figure out if I can do the work while this person is still in my life or if them constantly triggering me would hinder that work. Depending on that answer I decide whether I should burn a bridge or allow the person all the way up to my moat. If following the trigger shows me absolutely nothing that I need to work on and this person is still triggering me they always go and I don’t even care if I do it tactfully.

You have too much to fight for to wait for a savior or the ideal conditions to live the life you dream of… nourish and protect your inner life… make it hard for life’s circumstances to knock you down. Do not lay down on the inside!

xo, Anaín

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books i am lusting

It is a fact that I read a lot. I really do have a lust for reading and consuming books. It is also a fact that my favorite season for retreating into books for escape, healing, learning,  and all things revitalization is Fall. My Amazon wishlist of books is currently filled with over five hundred books that have been asking to come home to me. Yes, they beg me daily as I look through the wishlist seeing which one’s cry is the loudest and new releases usually don’t cry loud enough. But this year there are so many great books coming out in September that I am feeling torn. Books that are coming out in September have made their way to the very top of my list; cannot wait to get my hands on these new releases and I haven’t even gotten through my new August read.

I am private about my collection of books but because these because all seem like great reads, I’ve decided to share my Fall reading list with you. It might sound silly but it makes me feel extremely vulnerable to share this list publicly.

I present to you…

Fifteen Books I am Lusting!

List is in the order that I will be reading them.

 

The Erotic

Written by: Lou Andreas-Salomé

Book Description

Lou Andreas-Salomé may seem to be a figure remote from us, one belonging to a pre-1914 Europe, but in many ways, she is our contemporary. She travelled in a highly romantic world as socialite, sociologist, and author. She was part of Georg Simmel’s salon, the most exclusive in Berlin, frequented by elusive poet Stefan Georg, dramatist Paul Ernst, social theorist and polymath Max Weber, and Georg Lukács, among others.

Salomé’s unique contribution to the erotic was that she argued sexual difference ran deeper than economics, and equality—the politics of Marx and the ideals of the French Revolution. For Salomé, to think about women and their erotic nature, you must start with their biological and psychological difference, not their economic situation.

Salomé was an outstanding theorist. Her books on Nietzsche and on Rilke are major studies. The field of psychoanalysis would not have developed in the way it did without Lou Andreas-Salomé. We cannot understand Freud’s “rationalism” or his anti-religious sensibility without Salomé’s writings. This new English translation is an essential text of psychoanalysis, one that shaped the very conception of the field.

Why I want to read it…

Lou Andreas-Salomé is a woman that I consider an icon and that I highly admire because of her intelligence. She was a brave woman that lived and loved as she pleased in a time when this wasn’t acceptable for women to do. While many admire Anaïs Nin, I choose to admire the woman that Anaïs admired and I think she wished she could have been.

If you love  Anaïs Nin then you should become familiar with Lou Andreas-Salomé due to one simple fact:  All-things-Lou Andreas-Salomé > All-things-Anaïs Nin

 

 

Playing Well with Others: Your Field Guide to Discovering, Exploring and Navigating the Kink, Leather and BDSM Communities

Written by: Lee Harrington and Mollena Williams

Book Description

Whether you’re a trembling novice or a jaded expert, there’s always something new to be discovered in the endlessly changing, complex and titillating world of kink. While there are plenty of other books out there that explain how to give a spanking or tie a half-hitch, Playing Well With Others is the first book that explains kink *culture* — the munches, parties, leather bars, conferences, workshops, fetish nights, exploratoriums and all the other gatherings of kinksters that turn BDSM and leather from a bedroom predilection to a lifestyle and a community. You’ll learn to: * Examine your own motivations, needs, wants and desires * Ease your way into established communities * Understand etiquette in different adventurous sex communities * Familiarize yourself with the many types of events available to you * Care for your relationships as you explore new territory * Negotiate for play and aftercare * Go back to the “world at large” without ruffling feathers * …and, of course, answer the all-important question: What do you wear?! The team of Harrington and Williams offers 30-plus years of experience in diverse kink communities: top, bottom and switch; gay, bi and straight; female, male and trans; white and POC. Both former titleholders and international educators, they are an unbeatable pair of “sexual sherpas” with an inimitable voice and a great deal of wisdom. Playing Well With Others is an unprecedented and essential guidebook for anyone who wants to explore or understand the “community” aspect of the kink lifestyle.

Why I want to read it…

I’ve heard Mollena Williams tell a couple of stories at Bawdy Storytelling and she blew me away with her storytelling. As a sex educator I like to stay up on what is written about sexuality by other sex educators, especially if it is a topic that I am digging deeper into in my personal life as well.

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thoughts on suicide

Earlier this month I ended my longest relationship when I finally parted ways with Depression.

Breakups aren’t easy, especially when you are breaking up with the you that helps you hurt yourself. Breaking up with depression requires hitting a wall of sadness that is the realization that you’ve always been enough and do deserve more. Letting go of depression for those that have always had romantic thoughts of suicide requires believing in the you that knows that there is a best you could ever dream of being already with you. A you that knows that suicide is never an option. Ever.

 Finding that for me I’ve had to face a lot of sadness as I’m making an effort to understand that joy comes & goes.

Breaking up with depression caused me to have a full blown breakdown. As several dreams were coming true and new possibilities presented themselves instead of celebrating I panicked and wondered if deserved them and whether or not I was enough woman to follow through and live what I had dreamed. Instead of celebrating, I often found myself breaking down in tears as I prepared to leave my house to step into the bigger role that life now had for me. In those moments of panic and tears, I had to look forward and tell myself that I could do what was now expected of me and that I did deserve these things. It was in these moments that I realized that I might have been hiding behind my depression before.

Hiding behind depression? There was a time when irrational thoughts and emotions paralyzed me, causing me to quit on everything that I really wanted. Completely quitting life often felt so right that I believed that I belonged to a certain troubled group of people for which suicide is the only option. For this troubled group it wasn’t a question of whether they would commit suicide or not but a question of when they would. It just seemed better to figure out when was the perfect time to quit on myself than to feel my emotions or fully listen to my own negative thoughts. Sounds insane doesn’t it?

All the same negative thoughts and feelings of despair that had plagued me since forever were with me as my dreams came true. Sadness still filled my soul no matter what was going right or wrong, but this time around instead of backing down, quitting or not following through I allowed myself to fully experience my emotions and sit with the negative thoughts. I would not be the shadow version of me that wasn’t strong enough to live through the self-hate.

My moods do not control my life anymore, even when I am fully in my feelings I am in control of my actions.

I wasn’t hiding behind depression. What I was doing was not allowing myself to sit in my feelings or listen to the awful thoughts that I had. When depression set in I would retreat into the darkness and not work through my emotions or thoughts. I had to redefine what self-love was for myself because sometime ago somewhere someone had convinced me that if I really loved myself I would not allow myself to have negative thoughts. They were wrong! At the age of thirty-five, I learned that the fastest way towards happiness sometimes is through the sadness. Making it through the negative thoughts and terrible feelings is how I reach joy.

It is in my greatest moments that I am often fighting sadness the most. It is in my saddest moments that I reaffirm my commitment to living. These things are true for me now yet I know that for many there often seems to be no better option than suicide.

As I decided, that even though I would always have moments of depression I wouldn’t allow myself to suffer from it anymore, people I love started to tell me about friends that recently “suddenly and unexpectedly” had committed suicide.

Suddenly. Unexpectedly. Committed. Suicide.

It might seem sudden or unexpected to the people on the outside but to many of the people that follow through with suicide it was a long time coming.

Some of these people were the same people that when they expressed their feelings of sadness or irrational thoughts of unworthiness their friends responded with, “You can’t be depressed. You have a great life.”

You cannot see the internal struggle that those that are part of the group that believe suicide will be their tragic ending.

You cannot see anyone’s inner struggle but you can be vocal about how you work through your negative emotions and irrational thoughts to more friends so they can see that everyone experiences these things.

My emotional truths…

  • Never imagined the emotional strength it takes to step into the big stilettos that I always dreamed life would have for me someday.
  • Having much needed breakdowns are a part of realizing that I’ve always been enough and that I do deserve to live the life I’ve dreamed.
  • Breaking up with depression has me in an extreme cloud of sadness as I walk away from it. I don’t need/want to hide behind depression anymore.
  • I definitely have a blessed life filled with a lot of happiness but I will always have to battle depression and mental illness.
Share your emotional truths with those you love!

xo, Anaín

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Enjoying Sex, Avoiding Shame

There are people that cannot enjoy their bodies or sexuality because they were raised to be ashamed of both; I am not one of these people. Since as far back as I can remember I knew that what my parents were teaching me about sex and sexuality was flawed therefore I rebelled against their standards.

My parents wanted to make sure that I remained a “good” girl that would be worthy of being chosen to be a wife. Both of my parents tried their very best to assure that I wouldn’t become one of those “loose” girls that had sex outside of marriage. Neither of my parents told me much about sex other than that I shouldn’t do it, that if I did do it that no man would marry me and that it was a dirty thing that I should save for the man that would become my husband.

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my sexual liberation: an erotic quasi reality

I couldn’t sleep at all last night so instead I started writing an erotic story. This story is very much a fantasy but also journals my personal experiences and sexual liberation that was made easier because of  the writings of Betty Dodson, Carol Queen, Dossie Easton, Susie Bright, Violet Blue and Tristan Taormino (in order of appearance).

The story starts like this…

I spent hours tossing and turning in bed next to my husband who was snoring. It was one of those late spring East Bay nights that was ideal for sleeping with the windows open. An ever so slight cool breeze awakened my skin, as I was struggling to grab hold of fleeting sultry thoughts to use as fodder for the masturbation happening underneath our sheets. Frustrated I stopped. Settling into the heaviness of my inability to bring myself to orgasm I finally drifted off to sleep.

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lessons learned from great sex books

Before I start consuming new books in 2012, I wanted to make sure that I shared with you three very important lessons that I learned from three great books I read in 2011.

Lesson #1: It is never too late to get what you really really want from sex or life!

Learned it while reading: What You Really Really Want: The Smart Girl’s Shame-Free Guide to Sex and Safety by Jaclyn Friedman

That subtitle perfectly describes exactly what this book is all about. Had this book been in my hands in 1994, the year in which I began to define my sexuality and what I wanted from sex, I am sure that it would not have taken me eighteen years of trial and error to get to the confident pleasurable place where I am now!

When I started reading this book, I was once again struggling with the terms of my relationship, my sexual desires and my career goals. It hurts when you aren’t sure what you really really want because you’re worrying about what others expect, want for you or will say about you! I think that it might hurt a little more when you know what you really really want for yourself but can’t verbalize it because of fear. I knew what I wanted before picking up this book but I still worried about *them* then early in this book I read….

“Don’t let the fear of “getting a reputation” of any kind hold you back from exploring your sexuality on your own terms, even if that means you’re not ready to explore it yet.”

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comfort in sexual self-exploration

Push. Push. Push your limits. That’s what many that are writing about sexuality these days are saying. Transcend your sexual limitations! Really? What if you yet aren’t even comfortable with your sexuality. Shouldn’t the first goal of sexual self-exploration be figuring out how to navigate our sexuality? Shouldn’t we figure out our limits, our levels of comfort and define some goals before we do anything else? I am all for transcending limits but it is time we focus on our sexual truths before we get fancy with sexual exploring.

Me as a case study.

I absolutely made peace with my body. I often feel more comfortable naked than I do dressed. In certain outfits I might feel self-conscious in a room full of people. Naked in the center of a sex party that’s my environment! Just because I feel comfortable naked in a room full of people doesn’t mean that as someone that writes about sex I should stress to my readers that they should push their limits until they too feel comfortable socializing among other naked people at an orgy.

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just sexual

*Warning this post is stream of consciousness and it has not been edited.

For over a year, I have been struggling with writing a post about my sexuality. Not that I am uncomfortable talking about what I do sexually. We know I am very comfortable with that, but I am extremely uncomfortable with labeling my sexuality! I am almost insecure about doing that. What if I don’t want to define myself with a label? What if none of the labels really seem to define what I am?

I know that I am not heterosexual – at least not all the time. I know that I am not bisexual – at least not all the time. Does that make me heteroflexible? I don’t like that label either. Too new age for me. Too flexible. Am I fluid? Yes. Is that a label? I don’t know. I am just sexual. I am capable of loving all sorts of people with all sorts of labels. I am not against having consensual sex with anyone that I am really attracted to that I find arousing – regardless of their label.

I am just sexual. I am very sexual. I am also pretty damn choosy. I just am not the person that fits into a label. Fuck those that want to label my sexuality! I guess my real problem is with gender because to define my sexuality I’d have to define the gender of those I am having sex with. What if my partner doesn’t want to define their gender?

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