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#dayofthegirl

In 1998, I lived in a children’s home with Durga in Kathmandu, Nepal. I was 25 years old, a newlywed, and on a 6-month adventure with my husband volunteering overseas. She was a teenager who had been rescued from a rock quarry, where she had made a living as a rock-chipper to support her younger brother. I was optimistic about my abilities to save children at risk because I had been blessed with so much. She was optimistic she would be able to get a job because she had been given the opportunity for an education. We were both orphans. We both grew up as girl children. And yet, simply due to the part of the world in which we were each born, we were on radically different trajectories in life.

The United Nations has proclaimed today to be the International Day of the Girl Child. What is so special about girls?

  • Girls are 3 times more likely to be malnourished than boys.
  • Each year roughly 2 million girls between the ages of 5-7 are trafficked in human slavery.
  • Only 30% of girls in the world are enrolled secondary school.
  • Each year, more than 10 million girls are forced to marry as children.
  • In many countries women are more likely to be raped than taught to read.
  • One-quarter to one-half of girls in developing countries become mothers before age 18; 14 million girls aged 15 to 19 give birth in developing countries each year.
  • Medical complications from pregnancy are the leading cause of death among girls ages 15 to 19 worldwide.
  • When women and girls earn income, they reinvest 90% of it into their families, as compared to only 30 to 40% for a man.

Throughout the day today, I will be tweeting about the issues that girls face. I will be linking to articles that discuss the importance of drawing awareness to their stories. I will be highlighting organizations that care for the girl child. Please feel free to tweet about the subject yourselves, follow me on @erynfaye and make comments below. As a woman, as the mother of a daughter and as a friend of Durga, I believe that taking a moment to look at the issues surrounding #dayofthegirl is important.

What Mila Kunis Can Teach Us about Sexy

Here is my radio interview with Susan Knight of Calgary’s up!97.7 FM today:


Esquire Magazine just came out with their proclamation of the Sexiest Woman Alive for 2012. (And by “Sexiest Woman Alive” what they actually mean is “Sexiest Woman in the American Media.”) This year’s winner, Mila Kunis, follows in the footsteps of other women who most men would readily take to bed if they were given the opportunity. Those of us who think our culture has gone insane with its obsession with the perfect body just ignore the press releases and move on with our lives. Those of us who watch celebrities from a distance inwardly sigh in resignation that we will never be sexy.

But Hollywood has no shortage of women who are half-starved, surgically altered, primped and then airbrushed so that very little of the human remains. If sexy only means a certain clothing size, or cup size, and long, luscious hair, then the decision makers at Esquire would have a very difficult time narrowing down the candidates for their yearly title. So I did a bit of research to find out what is so catching about Mila. Here are some qualities that make her stand out from the crowd.

1)     Sexy is being comfortable in your own skin. Mila moves like she knows what she is doing. That is difficult for most of us. Moving easily, feeling good about ourselves was always derided as pride or vanity. However, it is at the heart of being sexy. One of my favourite definitions of the word comes from the book Sex God, wherein the author’s wife explained the term to their five-year-old son. “Sexy is when it feels good to be in your own skin. Your own body feels right, it feels comfortable. Sexy is when you love being you.”[1] When you know who you are and like yourself, you have one of the key ingredients to sexy.

2)     Sexy is passionate. When they announced the winner of this year’s title, Esquire also released a racy video of Mila prancing around, scantily-clad, giving sultry looks. (Here is the video.) But at the end of the video, she writes on the wall, “I’d rather be scuba diving.” It is completely disarming because we often assume that sexy is all about the sex appeal. But authenticity plays a role as well. Substance is important. What you are passionate about, the core of your being, comes out when you are being sexy.

3)     Sexy is warm and expressive. During the interview for the article, the reporter noted that Mila laughs and speaks loudly. “Loud enough that any of the ten or so people in the immediate vicinity can hear every word she’s saying. Loud enough that you start whispering just to counteract it.”[2] From the context of the article, I got the distinct impression that this was not so she could draw attention to herself, but because it is intrinsically part of her being. So many times, we minimize ourselves so we will fit in with the world around us. Unfortunately, this only serves to cut us off from others rather than deepen our connection. Sexy connects.

4)     Sexy is slightly mysterious. There are certain things about Mila’s life that are simply off-limits. She does not talk about the men that she is dating. When she needs privacy, she intentionally tries to dodge the paparazzi. A little bit of mystery is good for your sexy self as well. Not the “I’m not going to tell you where I was all night” type, but the “I’ll close the door when I go to the bathroom” variety. Understanding the difference and giving mystery room to breathe cultivates sexy.

We can’t all look like Mila. We can’t have the life experience, the visibility in the media or the roles in movies that she has had. But we can all be sexy.


[1] Bell, R. (2007). Sex God: Exploring the Endless Connections between Sexuality and Spirituality. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 46.

[2] For the complete article, see McCammon, R. (2012). “Mila Kunis Is the Sexiest Woman Alive 2012.” Esquire, October 6. http://www.esquire.com/women/women-we-love/mila-kunis-video#ixzz28pFzIVFX.

Keys to Better Sex Revealed

A new study analyses what makes a great sex life. Here are some of the highlights:

  • Communication, self-esteem and understanding each other’s emotions make for great sex
  • Men want to engage in activities which bring pleasure to women.
  • When men are in tune with their partner’s emotions, women are more open to exploration.

You can read the entire article here.

What makes your sex life great?

Bikinis for 7 year olds!?!?

I am the mother of a six-year-old and despite the subject matter that I speak about, write about and research for my day job, we are extremely conservative at home. Just the other day, my daughter chastised me for using the “D” word. It’s probably not what you think…I had commented that something was “dumb”.  And, for the record, the word “stupid” might as well be cussing in our household.

 

When it comes to my own profession, I also realize the prudence in speaking openly about sexual questions that come up. A few have with Riley…although not as many as I was expecting by this age. When she does broach the subject, I ask for clarity on what it is she is trying to learn and why, so that I can answer the question simply and truthfully but not answer too much. (There’s the old joke of the Dad who went into a lengthy explanation about sex to his child who asked “what’s sex”, only to find out that the child had been told by his mother that “dinner would be ready in a few “secs”.) I try to balance healthy candor about the subject of sexuality with the fact that we hold pretty conservative values as a family.

 

So, I was horrified to learn that Abercrombie & Fitch has just marketed a bikini for 7-year-old girls with a PUSH UP TOP.

Really????  Seriously!?!  Are you kidding me!!???

 

We are facing an epidemic of little girls growing up believing that their bodies are inadequate because of the ridiculous amount of media pressure to be a perpetual size 0, and yet they want to send a message to our 7-year-olds that their pre-pubescent chests are inadequate? It’s ludicrous.

 

But, as CNN’s LZ Granderson points out, companies such as Abercrombie & Fitch would not sell such items if there were not parents who buy them. Companies have increasingly pushed the boundaries on what is and what is not appropriate for teens and children for years, and have been allowed a ridiculous amount of latitude from parents. As parents, it is our duty to make sure that our children wear items that reflect a healthy amount of self-respect rather than just what is the latest fashion. As Granderson says,

 

I don’t care how popular Lil’ Wayne is, my son knows I would break both of his legs long before I would allow him to walk out of the house with his pants falling off his butt. Such a stance doesn’t always makes me popular — and the house does get tense from time to time — but I’m his father, not his friend.

Thank you, LZ for making the point that is so often lost on my peers. We did not give birth to children so that we could have life-long buddies. When we chose to produce off-spring, we were making a decision to train these little beings how to love themselves and how love others. Decisions that fall within these parameters do not necessarily make us popular with our children, but they do make us good parents.

 

Because of my job, I get asked all the time how to talk to kids about sex.  There are lots of opinions on that subject – when to start, how much to share, what’s age appropriate information.  But I don’t even have to broach any of those points to get to the basic premise here: Talking to your kids about sex includes how you let them dress – or how you choose to dress them.

 

That’s my take-away for this blog post.  But in the interest of fairness, I should say that Abercrombie & Fitch have agreed to remove the term “push up” from the title in favour of the less incendiary “striped triangle”, but have continued selling the padded bikinis.

 

What are you thoughts?

The Flat Tire

flat-tire_590x300

Last week, when I was driving Riley to school, I heard a weird noise coming from the wheel well that even I, who is not in any way mechanically inclined, knew was not a good sign.

I pulled over at the next safe place and got out of the car to inspect the damage. Sure enough, the wheel was flat. Making a quick phone call to the school to tell them that Riley would be late was easy. Figuring out how to proceed was more difficult. Eric was out of town, and (to be brutally honest) I forgot in the panic of the moment that we had Roadstar Assistance because I have never used it before.

I did briefly consider changing it myself. To my father’s defense, he had taught me how to change a tire as one of the rites of passage that every teenage girl should undergo. But that was back in high school (eons ago) and I knew for a fact that my tires had been put on with pneumatic tools. Even if I could remember what to do, I seriously doubted that I had the strength to do it.

Even though he was far away, Eric did prove to be extraordinarily helpful. He hopped on the internet and got me the name and number of our tire shop and recommended I call them. When the man picked up the phone, I threw myself on his mercy. I played the “husband out of town” and “five-year-old in the backseat” cards like a champ.

“Where are you?”, he asked after he had explained that he probably couldn’t help because he had a guy out sick and another out of the shop. When I told him, he said, “Hang on, I think my guy is two blocks from you!” Sure enough, my knight in shining armor (or at least a ball cap and big truck) showed up five minutes later.

Within moments, he had the spare on my car and was heading back to the shop to start fixing my tire. The problem? It had gotten screwed. Literally. Evidently, I had run over the screw at one of the many construction sites around our house. What a humorous way to start the day.

You might be wondering how this story has anything to do with passion. Here’s the deal: I had rushed out of the house that morning without any makeup on. To you, that might not be a big deal. In fact, that might be how you start every morning (especially if you are a reader of the male persuasion). But I grew up in Texas. And Texan women of my generation don’t go to the grocery store to pick up a gallon of milk without putting on makeup. It’s just what we do.

As a result of this upbringing, there are at most 3 times a year that I will venture out without a full complement of makeup. This was one of those times…and I got caught with a flat tire. I felt decidedly unattractive.

The gentlemen at the tire store didn’t seem to notice. I suppose the fact that I live in British Columbia, wherein makeup is definitely optional, made me blend in better.

The next day, I went back to the tire shop to get my winter tires removed (which technically was before the official start of summer, so I felt okay about that). Since I had clients to meet and things to do, I looked, well, normal. When I eneterd the store, the guy at the front desk looked somewhat surprised and said, “You look different today.” I responded, “You caught me on a bad day yesterday.” And then he said something that amazed me, “Funny, I thought I caught you on a great day.”

Now, he could have been being kind. After all, they do give superb customer service at this shop (as evidenced by my rescue the day before) and so maybe it is second nature to assuage the embarrassment of female patrons.

Or maybe he was telling the truth. Maybe how I see myself isn’t how others see me. Maybe what I personally find “attractive” doesn’t register as necessary or even as “attractive” for others.

When I am teaching clients on the importance of attractiveness, I always stress how important it is to ask your spouse what s/he finds attractive. Taking care of yourself and putting effort into how you appear is important to keep the passion alive in your relationship but how this looks is different to everyone. You could spend hours of time on something that you think makes you look hot but your spouse doesn’t give a rip. In that process, you might be overlooking what really matters to him/her. So, how do you know for sure? Ask.

All things considered, I am glad that I had a flat that day. I was able to experience, with fresh eyes, things that I tell my clients.  And if you’re going to be wrong about something, being seen as attractive when you don’t think you are is a pretty decent thing to be wrong on.  Maybe I don’t always have to be right!!

What about you?   Are you sure you know what your lover finds attractive?

The Greatest Gift

The Greatest Gift You Can Give

The Greatest Gift You Can Give

When was the last time you told your children how much you love your spouse?

That’s right.

When was the last time you looked your kids in the eyes and said, “I am so in love with your Dad [or Mom]”?

Are you terrified that they will feel unloved? Are you nervous that they will fall over themselves and say, “Ahhhh, that’s gross!!” Would they be totally confused? What holds you back?

Recently, I had to explain the concept of divorce to my daughter. Our goddaughter is part of a blended family, and so when my daughter asked some probing questions about them, I decided to answer honestly (but with brevity since she is only five). Many of Riley’s schoolmates come from single-parent households, but this was the first time she connected the dots with someone who is really close to our family.

The sadness that Riley felt was palpable. She didn’t understand how two people could marry and then divorce. It was incomprehensible to her that you would not live with the father of your child. In fact, she was so disturbed by the concept that she had another heart-to-heart with her teacher that day at school. I wish we were all so disturbed by divorce. The impact on a family is truly nothing less than devastating.

Kids live with the fear that their mom and dad will split up. This is understandable. They see it on TV (in one of Riley’s favourite shows, the dad is conspicuously absent). It is happening to their friends all around them. Why wouldn’t they wonder if they are next?

I believe that one of the greatest gifts you can give your kids is love for your spouse. Your marital happiness is the foundation of your family unit. And your kids need to hear about it. They need to know that you go on dates because your relationship with each other is precious. They need to see you flirt and cuddle and laugh. They need to hear that you love each other.

I don’t care if you are on your first, second or third marriage…if you are committed to making it work, then talk about how much you love your spouse around your kids.

“Riley, I love your Daddy.”

“Yeah, I know Mom. You tell me that all the time.”

Perhaps she will appreciate it more when she marries. Until then, I will have to keep modeling it for her.

Having Sex to Relieve Mental Stress

With very little effort I found quite a few websites and articles that talk about taking a “mental health day”.  Some of them are as simplistic as, “don’t go into to work if you think you might need to kill your boss – take a mental health day and relax”.  Others are fairly lengthy explanations about the existence of World Mental Heath Day – which is evidently every October 10th.  The bottom line is that we all get stressed at times in our lives.  And there is some evidence that taking a day to focus solely on yourself has tangible benefits to your mental well being.  But when a friend of mine pointed me to this article, The Benefits of Sex for Your Mind and Body, I realized that we don’t have to take a day – or wait for October 10th – before we can do something to reduce the amount of mental stress we carry.  We can have sex.  The article lays out 10 major benefits of sex that all relate to helping your mind and your body relax.

1.     Sex Makes You Sleepy.
“The sexual release you have after having sex actually helps you sleep better at night,” says Dr. Yvonne Fulbright, author of The Better Sex Guide to Extraordinary Love Making.

2.     Sex Makes you Happy.

Fulbright said that in a recent study of 4,000 American women, those who had the lowest stress and best overall mental well-being were those who were the most sexually active.

3.     Not having sex can lead to depression.

4.     Sex causes an “orgasmic pregnancy.”

“Women are the most interested in having sex when pregnant because they feel really good about themselves overall.”

5.     Sex will boost your self-esteem.

Fulbright says that having sex boosts your entire self-esteem, not just your body image.

6.     It releases oxytocin and endorphins.

Oxytocin is commonly referred to as the “love hormone” because it leads to feelings of intimacy, closeness, and strong social connections with someone else.

7.     Orgasms help mental health.

“Nothing is as relaxing as putting yourself in a place where you relieve stress,” says Dr. Gloria G. Bramer, a Georgia-based licensed clinical sexologist. “After you have an orgasm you release natural oxytocin to the brain, which balances you out.”

8.     Sex gets rid of cramps.

Bramer says that having sex may be the best way to relieve menstrual cramps. Many women say that by having an orgasm, they not only get instant relief from their cramps but also from other PMS related symptoms.

9.     Sex has healing powers.

Orgasm can help relieve chronic back and other pain.

10. Sex is connected to your libido.

Just as sex is tied to mental health and happiness, it’s also tied to your libido. Bramer says that when you are feeling stressed, your libido is going to suffer. This will in turn diminish your appetite for sex, which will also add to your risk of depression. Having sex is an instant mood enhancer that can reverse all of these symptoms.

Now, I will be the first to point out that the article, written by Colleen Moody, does not site source studies for these tidbits of information (other than the book by Dr. Fulbright and the quotes from Dr. Bramer), but I still find the list interesting.  These might be common sense things to some of you, but putting things into a neat little list can often be helpful.

Want to add to the list?  What mental health benefits do you find accompany sex and orgasm?

For those interested, you can find the original article here.

The Most Popular Man at a Nudist Colony

Who is the most popular man at a nudist colony?

The man who can carry two cups of coffee and a dozen donuts.

Wow! Not only is that guy well endowed, but he has a pretty strong erection too! Oftentimes we talk about kegel exercises for women, but overlook the fact that men derive great benefit from doing these exercises as well. As men increase the strength of their PC muscles they will find that it:

  • Helps with premature ejaculation
  • Increases the intensity of their orgasms
  • Increases the strength of their erections
  • Helps increase over-all control in the pelvic region
  • Increases their odds of having multiple orgasms

Advantages of Kegel exercises: These exercises do not take a lot of time out of your day, and they can be done without anyone noticing that you are doing them. Do them in your car on your commute to work, sitting at your desk at the office or while you are watching TV.

Finding the PC muscle: Go to the bathroom. As you begin to pee, stop the flow of urine. This muscle that you use to halt the urination is your pubococcygeus or PC muscle. (If you want to isolate this muscle to ensure that you are using the correct one, you can insert your finger in your anus. As you flex your PC muscle, the anus will tighten.)

Basic kegel: Once you have identified your PC muscle, you can begin doing kegel exercises. The goal is to squeeze your PC muscles as tight as possible and hold them for 10 seconds. However, when you are starting, hold them for as long as you can and work up to 10 seconds. After each kegel, rest for the same amount of time that you squeezed. For example, if you contracted your muscles for 5 seconds, then rest for 5 seconds. Work up to 10 reps, 3-4 times a day.

Advanced kegels:

  • Squeeze and release rapidly for 10 seconds. Rest for 10 seconds. Do 3 sets. Work up to sets of 1 minute each.
  • Squeeze and hold. Hold for 2 minutes. Do one set. Work up to 3 sets, resting in between each.
  • Squeeze and release your muscles 50 times. Do one set.

You might want to note, however, that just like building your 6-pack takes time, so does building your PC muscles. Work on them daily and you will definitely see an improvement in the next couple months or so. You will reap all the benefits of a strong erection, but won’t have to clean up after sticky donuts!

ED in Newlyweds

Dear Eryn-Faye,

As a newlywed wife my husband experienced E.D. (he is only 47) on our honeymoon and the problem has cont’d, specifically the inability to maintain the erection. We have tried all the meds out there, we are now exploring injection and it has worked better. Nonetheless, the doctor basically assessed that my husband does not have a physical problem but that it was mental. As a wife, I do not fit in the category of a passive, sexual partner. Rather I am more assertive, have lots of desire but am turned off with the E.D. and my husband knows it. He has said that I “shoot him down”. Please help. We have been married a little over one year.

Let me begin by saying that my heart goes out to you during this painful and difficult time. The first year of marriage often brings issues to light which can feel overwhelming, particularly when they are of a sexual nature. Please allow me to offer you some resources which might help your specific circumstances.

First of all, I encourage you to continue to work with your doctors to find a medical or psychological answer to what you are facing in your sexual relationship. They will have knowledge of the most recent therapies that are available that would be suitable to your circumstances and your husband’s state of health. As you are pursuing that avenue, here are a few other suggestions:

On the Ask Eryn-Faye section of my website, I have answered a question which pertains to erectile difficulties and there might be some helpful information there.  While the couple who wrote in were older than you and your husband, you might find the principles of the article to be helpful. As an encouragement to you, 47 isn’t too young to be dealing with erectile difficulties; in fact, I coached one couple in their 20’s who were dealing with this issue.

No matter what age they are, every man wants to be the superhero in the bedroom and losing that ability strikes deeply at their ego. It is crucial right now that your actions do not exacerbate an already complicated issue by making your husband feel more inadequate than he is already feeling. In fact, if the problem is indeed psychological then the tension that the two of you are experiencing over the matter is going to aggravate it. Maintaining sexual intimacy (even if you cannot have penetration) is very important during this stage. If your husband is initiating sex, then by all means – take him up on the offer!  But as a woman who identifies as assertive, you as well can (and should) communicate your desire for him by instigating sexual intimacy and/or activity.

If he cannot experience or maintain an erection, then allow him to pleasure you in other ways. Experiment with different ways to achieve orgasm (manual, oral, etc.). If you are a woman who needs to have something inside of her to feel that your sexual experience is “complete”, then ask him to use his fingers or a bedroom toy. Channel all that desire that you have into building your sexual relationship even if it looks different than what you had envisioned.

Finally, it is important to prevent the issue of sexual dysfunction from overtaking all aspects of your relationship. Obviously, there was something about your husband that caused you to fall in love and marry him, so focus on those areas and build on them so that they grow deeper as you both seek solutions to address the erectile difficulties.

Thank you so much for reaching out to me with this very important question. It is very important that you feel the freedom to ask questions, as asking questions is an important way to see your relationship with your husband grow and deepen. If you have any further questions or comments, I would love to hear from you again!!

Warmly,
Eryn-Faye, Passion Coach

Too Old to Play?

Dear Eryn-Faye,

My partner is 75 years old and he has not had regular sex for quite a few years. He is having a problem having a strong erection and gets frustrated easily by this even though I do not put pressure on him to perform. I love him and would like to have a strong sex life but I am unsure of what to do to get him feeling more comfortable. Is there any age where men or women feel that sex is not part of there lives anymore?

The issue that you are experiencing is very common. As men age, they have increased difficulties with having and maintaining an erection. This is obviously an issue as we are having sex later and later in life. In my years as a Passion Coach, I have never met someone who was too old to have sex! The logistics may be a bit more complicated than when we were younger, but the interest and desire for intimacy is still there!

Allow me to give you a few suggestions that you and your partner can try together. First, if he is able to achieve erection, then you could use a “C-Ring” to help him maintain the erection. This item is a stretchy ring, usually made from silicone, which is placed around the base of the penis once it is erect. As the blood flow into the penis is restricted, it stays erect for longer. They are sometimes sold at drug stores or your can order them online. Here is a link to a company which sells C-Rings. You can order them in the privacy of your own home and they are delivered in plain packaging for your privacy and confidentiality.

* See the “Magic Rings” or the “Intimacy Enhancer

For a complete explanation of how to put them on, how long to use them, etc., please visit this link.

A second suggestion is for your partner to visit his doctor. In these situations, doctors often prescribe a drug such as Viagra which can help men experience and maintain erection. This can be a very satisfying solution for couples.

Finally, allow me to speak to your comment about not wanting to put pressure on your partner. As I am sure you are aware, sometimes this issue is very difficult for men to talk about. A lot of their masculinity is tied up in their ability to “perform” and when this is waning, it can strike deep at the core of their identity. For tips on how to how to talk about this subject, this link has some excellent information: http://www.allabouted.com/english/relationships/partner.html.

Thank you for writing in to us. If you have any other questions, or just want to comment, I would love to hear from you again!

Sincerely,

Eryn-Faye, Passion Coach