Imagine This Situation…
Take a moment and imagine this scenario: you and your lover are taking your first sexy getaway, vacationing in a remote mountain wonderland. You are far away from anyone and everything: the reason why you booked this place! You get caught in a snowstorm and must retreat to your romantic alpine chalet for safety and warmth. The storm is relentless and you aren’t able to leave the chalet for weeks. You have enough provisions and firewood to last and you are in no hurry to go anywhere! Maybe, and not so secretly, you feel like the winter gods and goddesses answered your prayers!
You see, this lover is THE lover of your dreams: a sexual expert in every way possible – attending to every need, desire and want you’ve ever expressed (or conjured up in your mind!). And, it is as if your lover can actually read your mind – every beautifully sexy nuance and detail! You are enraptured! Pleasure and passion fill your days. You are intoxicated by pure sensuality. You can’t seem to get enough of one another and you could care less if you ever have to go back to the real world – and I mean, ever! Doesn’t this sound like absolute bliss? How long do you think you could endure this? Weeks? Months? Years? The rest of your life?
Calgon, for goodness sake, take me away! Right this very moment!
Realistically, though, how long do you imagine this blissed-out fantasy state would last? The truth? Not long, not long at all! You will eventually run out of food and firewood… and toilet paper! You don’t have access to television or the internet. You will start to crave anyone and anything other than the lover who you believed was the only ever-living soul you’d ever want to be in the company of for as long as you both shall live.
The electricity will run out. You will have read, by candlelight, their library of Jane Austen, the Bronte sisters, Jude Deveraux, Nora Roberts, Nicholas Sparks and Danielle Steele books (the chalet owners were really into setting the mood, alright!). This will actually begin to turn your stomach… you crave James Patterson, David McCullough or the Harry Potter series! And, as expertly as you have been pleased and worshipped and mind-melded with your sexual savant, you are getting on each other’s nerves, you want to wring each other’s necks and you are ready to sacrifice your health and safety by running barefoot in the snow, not stopping until you find civilization or freeze to death.
Jeez, what a way to spoil that fantasy, right?
So, back to reality. This is our current condition: spouses, parents, kids, grandchildren, extended family members living under the same roof. Living alone. Living with platonic roommates. Tiny houses, apartments, condos, shared spaces: the “four walls” get smaller and smaller with each passing day. We are living in crazy times: sanity must be crucial for our survival!
We crave connection and physical contact. And we also want some damn space and privacy – near impossible to accomplish with a houseful of people day-in, day-out! We want to have intimate talks with and see our loved ones. We are also becoming burned out on Zooming and virtual happy hours! And we are desperately trying to adjust to this new normal and even more desperately pining for our pre-pandemic days. Most of us are well into 2 months of quarantine here in the USA and this new normal is getting old!
A New Life Is Awakening…
For many, this has also been a time of reawakening, rejuvenation, and reprioritizing. Big shifts are happening in careers, relationships, personal development, and the environment, just to name a few. Getting back to basics. Slowing down. Walking around neighborhoods. Appreciating nature. Decision-making that will change lives from this point forward. Having gratitude and a newfound perspective on life. All profound changes emerging from this new paradigm.
And, still, a substantial amount of people are depressed and anxious and totally stressed out!
The Power of Sex
Naturally, for me, this feels like the perfect place in which to talk about sex. Why? Because sex has the power to:
- Improve satisfaction with your mental health – including your well-being and ability to think; identifying and expressing emotions, and, potentially, having a better memory.
- Improve your libido and makes it easier to have sex more frequently – associated with increased vaginal lubrication. As our bodies change after menopause, vaginal dryness and atrophy can make sex less enjoyable or comfortable. Having sex more regularly increases the chance of less pain and discomfort, therefore, making it more likely for you to want to do it more often!
- Strengthen your pelvic floor which can improve bladder control,
- Count as exercise (oh, yes, it does – up to 5 kcals/minute!) – and can improve cardiovascular fitness: improving blood circulation and lowering blood pressure.
- Lessen pain – releases endorphins and oxytocin, one of the “feel good” hormones. May relieve headaches, migraines, and has also been known to relieve pain associated with arthritis.
- Help you sleep better – arousal and orgasm release that “feel good” hormone, oxytocin, and decrease cortisol, the “stress hormone.” Sex helps shut down areas of the brain linked to stress, fear, and anxiety.
- Solidify relationships – and not just sex but kissing, cuddling, holding hands, being connected and intimate with your partner helps to reduce depression and increase life satisfaction. It can also increase levels of trust, intimacy, and love in your relationships.
- Make you look and feel younger!
Taking Charge of Your Health
I am a huge advocate for taking charge of our health, listening to our bodies, acknowledging our health concerns, and checking in with healthcare providers when needed. If you have any concerns about your health, (and maybe sex is part of the equation) please reach out to your provider and ask for help. We women owe it to ourselves to be informed. Taking charge of our health sets the stage as to how we live our lives every day – and this absolutely includes sex!
What if you are quarantining at home alone or you do not have a current partner? Being holed up in your home, not having an available sexual partner can cause some frustration, or a lot of frustration, at the moment! It may be very tempting to want to “look for love” right now… these high-stress situations can give way to low impulse control and high risk-taking – probably not the best option given our current landscape. You may even have a spouse or partner at home and yet you are craving some time to be with yourself, connect intimately and authentically to you without having any expectations or agendas.
What’s a Woman to Do?
So, what’s a woman to do? Well, the safest, and most honoring sexual act we can take part in is self-pleasure or solo sex. This gives a whole new meaning to “safe sex”. You are your own best and safest sex partner. May is the Month of Strawberries, Salsa, Melanoma Cancer Awareness, Lupus Awareness, Mental Health, (and Teen Self-Esteem) and Nurse’s Week is celebrated May 6-12 (For the record, I think nurses need far more than a week, more than a month to be celebrated).
May is also International Masturbation Month! I say this again: May is International Masturbation Month! (For those of you who already knew this, then I know that you know that I know what you’re doing! Brava! I’m with you, sister!) But, what if you find this uncomfortable, embarrassing or you just don’t know how?
Let’s Talk About Self-Pleasure!
Ok, then, let’s go back to basics. If the thought of masturbation terrifies you, let’s just start with finding what feels pleasurable in a sensual, not necessarily a sexual, way. How do you define pleasure? What makes you feel good? Is it soaking in a salt bath listening to jazz and drinking a cup of tea or glass of wine? Is it smelling that scent that takes you back in time to the most delicious memory? Or moving your body rhythmically? Is it eating your favorite slice of homemade peach pie? Is it reading a beautiful book or poem that evokes tender emotions? Or is it slow sensual kisses and soft caresses that elicit a building internal fire? Our senses: taste, touch, sight, sound, smell – these are what ignite our pleasure centers.
First and foremost: you must become aware of what gives you pleasure!
In my book, “Feel Sexy Again: The Ultimate Guide to Reclaiming Your Sexual Confidence,” I have a section called My Pleasure Principles. It’s basically a list of every single thing that brings pleasure in my life, sexual and non-sexual. It’s quite a lovely exercise to sit down at a time when you are relaxed and centered and open and just free flow all the things that are pleasurable in your life. Nothing is off-limits. You can have two items or two hundred!
The key thing here is to acknowledge what brings you pleasure or what you think might bring you pleasure. Start a list today! You can always modify it as time goes on. Hey, we are constantly evolving and changing; the ways in which we feel pleasure evolves and changes, as well. That’s the beauty of authentically listening to what you truly want from life! Paying close attention can produce incredible insight!
Surviving Quarantine With a Partner
So, how about getting back to those of you who have partners at home and may have found some challenges in making time to be intimate these days. With the house potentially full of kids, grandkids, parents, extended family, or even if it’s just the two of you: what’s a couple to do? You know the old adage, absence makes the heart grow fonder? Does this hold true for our libidos, as well? Has the fact that you’ve spent an exorbitant amount of time with your partner alter the way in which you are intimate and affectionate with him or her? Has it changed the way in which you connect with one another, the way you connect to yourself? And, has this time made you feel more like roommates than love mates? And if this last question is true, can you restore what once was, if this is your desire? Or, is it possible to start something new altogether? Can you take this experience and set the stage for how you wish to live – and love – now and in the future?
We Are In New Territory
How, where, and why we are living through this pandemic is new territory – for each one of us. We are all sharing threads of a collective experience – not by choice; however, this is our current reality. And many of us are grieving; actually, I’d bet a good majority of us are going through some form of grief. And we may not even know that this is happening.
Oftentimes, burying grief is part and parcel for carrying on with life for so many folks. We don’t take the time to really stop, acknowledge, sit with, and feel it. We push it aside and move on to the next whatever-it-may-be. We’ve all experienced loss from this pandemic: our family and friends, our freedom, rites of passage, our work, jobs, our self-identity, money, safety, security, stability… the list is inexhaustible! And our reactions to these losses are as unique and as individual as are we! Given all of this, how in the world do we get back to finding some pleasure and connecting intimately with ourselves and our partners?
Communication and Intimacy
I believe it’s important to readjust your expectations and redefine what intimacy means to you – and what it means to your partner. Do you know what your partner desires and wants? Does your partner know, in-kind? Does one believe that intercourse is the only way to check the intimacy box while the other is completely satisfied with cuddling, kissing, and calling it a night?
Communicating your mutual desires and needs with one another is important in navigating this sometimes tricky landscape of sex and intimacy. If you can talk to one another, but can’t fully agree, how might you meet each other halfway? How can you both get your needs met in a way that honors both of you?
It May Be Tough But…
These questions may be challenging, and, again, the communication part might be toughest of all… but hang in with me: how would it feel to be able to authentically share with your partner what lights you up and turns you on and your partner is acknowledging and accepting… and totally freaking excited? Really? How would that make you feel? Honored? Seen? Worthy? Appreciated? Desired? Loved? How will you respond to your partner when he or she is genuine in their response, sharing their vulnerability and desire? I’ll go out on a limb and say that you may also feel acknowledging, accepting, and totally freaking excited, too! Speaking to your partner about your needs is a true act of courage and self-love.
Here’s the thing: when you welcome your partner’s vulnerability, and they welcome yours, it begins to knit a tightly woven tapestry in which trust, validation, encouragement, commitment, and love come together. You begin to focus on what is good and pay attention to the positive experiences. You have a mutual dependency with your partner, and this ability to rely on and support one another extends into the more challenging times in life, not just in the happy-go-lucky moments. And, you share in your personal growth, becoming more resilient, wiser, and emotionally stronger as you are able to connect authentically and vulnerably with each other. Plus, you are able to find pleasure in your experiences together that allow you to feel connected and nourished.
Having Grace and Patience
Having grace for yourself and your partner during these times is essential. As you navigate through these days, certain emotions may arise in which you may want to sweep or push aside. This also holds true for your partner. Honor this in yourselves and know you are both responding in your own unique and individual ways. You may not always be in sync when it comes to wanting sex and being intimate. Honor each of you where you are in the moment. Hey, at times, you may have to employ a bit (or a lot) more patience; other times, you will get creative, innovative, and see what sparks ignite! Sometimes, you may just have to let things go and allow the outcome to unfold, however it may. And other times, you may just have to take the bull by the horns and take care of business! All is appropriate. You really won’t know until you try.
This Too Shall Pass
Remember: grace, honor, patience. This must be good enough for now. Because, this too shall pass. And, before you know it, you will be able to get to that sexy mountain getaway with that expert lover: your partner! And you will not want to do anything but stay nestled in that romantic alpine chalet for days on end as you both attend to one another’s every need, want, and desire. You know what your partner wants: your partner knows, in kind. You both are 100% acknowledging, accepting and so totally freaking excited! That day is on the horizon. So be ready! Get started today!
Not Just For Couples!
Hey, and who says that this chalet is meant for couples only? For those of you who are single, non-partnered, or just want that Calgon Moment for yourself… remember something extremely important: you don’t need a partner to light you up or turn you on! You are the safest and best sex partner available. Knowing what brings you pleasure and knowing yourself intimately – your desires, wants, and needs – is the foundation for great sex with a partner! So, please, please take yourself on a pleasurable getaway and enjoy your own special sexy solo time. I’m getting a bit turned on thinking of this delightful idea! I believe I will be making my reservations shortly.
How are you handling this pandemic with your partner or with yourself? We want to hear from you. Let us know in the comments at the bottom of this page!
Erica Lemke-Pembroke, MA, is a certified life coach and wellness coach, focused on helping women feel sexy again. Erica’s experience coaching clients in both health and fitness and weight loss resulted in her starting her own practice. Erica is a feminine movement practitioner who resides in Salt Lake City, Utah.
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