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The Joy of Masturbation and Other Goings Ons….

I feel like I have been neglecting us. You and me. My blogging has been sporadic and I have been missing it and you. I have been taking a lot of time to myself. Spending a lot of time alone and being in my head, job searching, as well as doing things I need to do to take care of myself, but never seemingly enough….

I realized I haven’t shared with you that for most of the past year,  I have been an Associate Editor and content curator at Adios Barbie a volunteer-run website. Adios Barbie has been dedicated to exploring body Image, body politics, and body justice for the last 20 years. AB shares content that ranges from journalism to first-person narratives and creative writing around how our identities intersect with cultural politics, our bodies, health, and self-image.

Back to self-care, I recently penned a piece for Adios Barbie called “Finding Self Care Through the Joy of Masturbation.” It is sometimes a fine line at deciphering self-care from actual health care. And although I have defined masturbation as an element of my self-care, you could even consider it to be part of your health care or actual care routine. Here is an excerpt from the article I wrote for Adios Barbie called “Finding Self Care Through the Joy of Masturbation.”

“Have you ever masturbated?” whispered my friend Joyce when our fifth grade class lined up to leave the auditorium following the sexual education assembly.

“No!” I responded, slightly mortified, but intently curious. “Have you?”

“No,” she said with a knowing smile.But she told me she had noticed that her baby cousin was always tugging at his little tiny penis. We laughed.

The sex ed assembly was not nearly as interesting, educational, or memorable as Joyce’s anecdote. When I got home, my mother asked me how the assembly went. I told her it was fine and asked, “When will I masturbate?”

I realized my mistake immediately and corrected it: “Menstruate!” She looked at me in horror and then embarrassment, causing me to sink into oblivion. That was the moment I learned that masturbating was shameful. She said nothing for a very long time. And then she returned to making dinner, and I took the opportunity to obsess alone in my room. She didn’t speak to me again that night except to alert me that dinner was ready. Later, I heard her telling my dad what had happened. I don’t think he ever looked at me the same way again.

Honestly, the thought of masturbation wouldn’t really come up again until I was in my late teens. My mom and dad had long been divorced when I found my dad’s abandoned porn collection, primarily made up of Playboy magazines and a few Penthouse Forums. Forum was literally a hand-sized magazine dedicated to articles, interviews, and, for me, the main attraction: erotic stories. The slow learner in me benefited from Forum.

Growing up in white suburbia, steamy stories about housewives entertaining delivery men while their husbands hid in the closet to watch or join in on the fun turned out to be a turn-on. Ironically, my dad’s porn collection inspired me to finally begin exploring my never-before-explored “nether regions”. Quickly, I had joined the enlightened club that had long eluded me. “Self love” is a beautiful thing, even if the act of loving yourself doesn’t always equal self-love and acceptance.

Continue reading this piece on Adios Barbie

You can also find other pieces by me on the site including a recent interview on race and ableism with east asian non-binary queer activist and Ethiopian food enthusiast, Lydia X. Z. Brown.

I’ll be back sooner than later. If you like and want to support my work consider tipping me at PayPal.me Be well.


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The Empowerment Project: Soul

The Empowerment Project - Soul1

In preparation for the Autumn Equinox, I converted a shelf into an altar to the four elements. All of which I connect to very deeply. Fire, Earth, Air, Water. It was  a really joyful experience to do so. I felt peaceful and centered and more grounded after creating this little, sacred space.

Don’t forget to look up into the sky tomorrow night. It is a Harvest Full Moon which also happens to be a Full Lunar Eclipse tomorrow. A time to let go. As the full moon decreases in size or starts to wane (Waning Moon) it is a time to release and let go. So I will be making a list of things to release during this Mercury in Retrograde….

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This is my year of Love. My singular goal for the year has been to act and think and live from a place of love. It has been a challenge since I am a perfectly imperfect person. I am a loving thoughtful, giving person, but I realized that my life gets a lot harder when I am not physically and/or mentally engaged with something greater than myself.

That can mean so many things and does. From giving my time and self in service to people in my life to just acknowledging that I am a daughter of the Universe.

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If you follow me on Instagram you will find that I use a hashtag #WeAreStardust. And we are! Knowing that and simply saying that makes me feel empowered, and a part of something greater and connected to others, connected to nature, connected to myself. Connecting to myself is key.

I check in with myself about how I am feeling. I question my motivations often enough to check my intent but try not to be obsessed…. It’s those little things that are making my life more intentional. I live with intention these days. I make a concerted effort to live from a place of soul rather than ego. It just takes a shift of perception sometimes to go from one to the other.Elements 4

When I am in a place of ego, I am trying to control perceptions, outcomes, and even actual events and it is generally a place where I feel insecure. When I am in a place of soul I am able to just be. I am present and engaged and feel open instead of closed because I feel secure. So for me Soul vs. Ego is very much about being in a state of grace where peace is attainable.

It’s the act of giving gratitude, the desire to connect to nature, the exercise of practicing yoga and creating rituals for living that gives me that peace.

Elements 2

The more I feel as if my words, actions, and experiences are coming from a place of soul, the less I am wanting, resenting and judging and the more I shine. I am realizing the more time I put into feeding my spirit, which for me means connecting myself to the earth, to others, to the Universe, the more fulfilled I feel.

To a life of Soul.


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The Empowerment Project: Recognizing the Value In Feeling Bad


This has been a very hot and rough summer. Because of my depression, I have been neglecting myself and it’s taking a toll. I have fallen out of my yoga practice this month felt very out of shape due to a lot of sedentary tasks from blogging to sewing. Between that and struggling with financial stability and the emotional impact of  all of the socio-political strife happening in the world, the last few months have just been- hard. My depression and anxiety have been a dominant presence.

When I look at the last year of hard uncompromising work I’ve been doing on my spirit and self-esteem, finding support has been a big part of that. Loving yourself and valuing yourself is easier when you have others reflecting that back to you and when you have others cheering you on. But like me, my local friends have been going through it. I still benefit from having heart to heart conversations, clever and distracting feel good texts and correspondence with some of my closest friends, but I have also been self-isolating as a result of how depression limits my physical and emotional resources. Resources that apparently the Universe thinks are best reserved for me right now.


Sometimes time away, time alone, time to reflect and heal are the best things I can do for myself. Everyone is different and it has taken a long time for me to embrace turning inward to deal with my depression. Turning off my inner critic and having compassion for myself is the goal. Remembering to have as much compassion for me as I would for others is crucial.  No matter how many self-love gurus permeate the web and preach the gospel of positivity, I don’t feel happy and amazing or positive all the time. Many people have chemical imbalances that don’t allow them to fake it til they make it. I actually feel very fortunate that I am highly functional in my depression. Yet and still being depressed and having anxiety is not easy, and guess what, that’s okay.

The idea that the world is what you make it resonates with me as I am a daughter of the Universe and a lover of the Goddess and feel that our energy is connected, deeply. But it doesn’t account for the economy, bias, body chemistry, mental or physical health, bad timing or life’s big and little and very real distractions. The idea that if you are not “happy” and “thriving” every moment, you are doing something wrong is pretty narrow. All feelings are valuable. If you are not keyed into your emotions and or your body, how would you know when you are in trouble and when to reach out for help?


“Faking it until you make it” is a novel idea but isn’t a viable solution if you aren’t addressing what is actually going on for you emotionally or sometimes physically. I no longer hide my “bad” moments in the shadows as if they are a burden.  I address them and I give my frustrations, disappointments, and sad feelings a voice. Otherwise, those feelings become toxic and could consume me.  Just the fact that I am penning this post represents my coming out of the other side of a six-month bout with my depression. It’s taken a long time to get to the point where I could recognize my feelings at the moment and address my own needs around emotional shifts and physical cues. I have finally learned how to honor them.

It can be a long slow process, but a truly authentic process to accept where you are, determine what you need and learn to care for yourself and support yourself in moving through those challenging feelings. What people forget to say when they are rallying for you to love yourself is that feelings of love fluctuate and in the end, love is acceptance. Accepting yourself means honoring the perfectly imperfect parts too. I am learning daily.


I am really grateful that I have the ability to recover from being down, and feeling out. I am grateful that deep down I am an optimist who truly believes things will work out in the end. I am grateful for the ability to recognize my own feelings and perform whatever self-care I can at that moment. I am grateful that through gratitude I am able to find peace.


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Cinephile: Inside Out


This is not a review. This, however, is a dead-on review by Mayka Mei. I didn’t know anything about the latest Disney/Pixar movie until my friend Nati posted lots of adorable videos and pics and FB statuses about it. Then I watched it and cried my little eyes out with Joy and Sadness. The big reveal is so simple but really has been one of the hardest lessons of my life.

I was angry for so much of my adolescence, depressed and in denial throughout my late teens and early 20s. In my mid-30s I was given a label/diagnosis by a Dr. and started to acknowledge and embrace my sadness. It wasn’t until my late 30’s that I owned being a depressive person and stopped feeling shame about it.

Honoring your feelings is the thing. Honoring your feelings and moving through them if you can, is the thing. There is no shame in feeling depressed, asking for help when you need it to cope or manage your feelings. Sometimes honoring those feelings is just riding the waves of emotion.

I am a cinephile and I have come to realize that movies are a huge emotional release for me. It is rare for me not to cry during a movie. Even a rom-com or silly comedy – if done well – will lead me to tear up if not have a full on bawling episode.

I don’t use film as an escape, but as a way to passively connect with my feelings. Especially when I am too much inside of my own thoughts. Since I began doing self-acceptance work, hard work, I realized that so much of it was about finding my motivation from my heart instead of my head. Inside Out is a beautiful reminder of that.

Feeling like you have to be happy all of the time is not the way to honor your experience. It is for most people not authentic. And it hurts people to see happy as the end goal. Living a beautiful life includes tears and sorrow. There is no joy without sadness.


The Empowerment Project: Meditations On Fear


People everywhere are constantly telling us to Love ourselves. Especially now that body positivity is a “trending” topic. I really dislike the word and concept behind the term trend…. It often feels hard and challenging to love ourselves and I’ve written a little bit about that reality in my experience with that here. How do you start to love yourself?! A question not easily answered. So I decided to briefly share how I have come to the place where I am starting to love myself. I’ve talked a little bit about how being visible helped me to actually see myself and start to accept myself.  At the core of my self-love and acceptance journey is the understanding that the opposite of Love is not hate but Fear.

I have been pushing my boundaries with fear as of late. Once upon a time I thought my “pride” and fragile ego, was my biggest curse. But now I think it was my fear or even terror of being hurt and humiliated that drove me to inaction in any and every part of my life for a very long time. It was really the fear of being seen, the fear of being judged, the fear of being maligned and most of all the fear of feeling that I deserved those things that stopped me dead in my tracks. My fears of being hurt were realized early on and often. Those hurts stripped me down over the years.

I remember the highlight reel of pain well. When I was 6 and in first grade, my classmate called me the n-word on the first day of school and  I hurt purely. When I hit puberty and my father shamed me for ‘showing’ my body with what I was wearing my hurt, stung. When I was a teenager my predominantly white affluent high school classmates started arguing that the holocaust was “worse” than slavery my hurt erupted into anger. When I was harassed at work for two years and I went to my union, my office manager, my co-workers who had witnessed it all,  and no one stood up for me – my hurt bore rage. I became afraid to authentically engage altogether.What was the point? I wouldn’t be seen anyway. I was afraid to try altogether and putting myself in pain’s way was counterintuitive.


After years of existing, I eventually started to remember the things, I loved to do just for myself. I started making. I started sewing. I started making precious headpieces and sharing them with the people around me and then opened up an Etsy shop. And then I started selling my wares in person and meeting other creatives. I took a patternmaking course and met more creative women and started to seek out other communities where I could celebrate the things that gave me pleasure with people who accepted me and authentically saw me.

Eventually, I stopped focusing on others who did not see me, recognize, support or value me. And as I let go of those hurts and actively sought out my joy, I started to recognize my own value. That took years….

And one day I decided that I was of value and stopped looking for others to recognize it. In a fairly short time that recognition of my own worth led me to share more of my authentic self, and slowly but surely move past my fears and try new things. I started yoga and sharing images of myself doing so. Facing my fears and then embracing my fear has become lifesaving. Exposing myself to scrutiny, opening myself up to judgment, and most importantly revealing myself and being vulnerable has attracted kind, genuine like-minded folk into my life. This is key, being vulnerable to attract the presence of supportive people reinforcing that positive self-image and radical self-love is key. I am growing my community and getting the support to shine. Soulshine.

I recently heard an amazing analogy: Confidence is a like a muscle that if it’s being exercised will continue to grow. So these days I practice building my confidence by overcoming my fear.  Whether it’s a fear of not getting the job, having an unfinished project or a fear of someone seeing my body as it is.

To be brave is to be afraid and proceed anyway. I got brave and posted my nude yoga pictures in a recent Yoga Instagram challenge. Letting go of what might happen if I posted them was the thing. Letting go is the thing. I believe that my hurts have gifted me compassion and empathy. My not having felt seen in the world gives me an ability to genuinely see other people around me for who they are. I have realized that for all of the growing pains I experience, once I let go of the pain, growth is, was and always will be left behind. 

Pushing past my fear of being vulnerable is the thing that propels me forward. I understand this now and am on a mission to continue to let go and get free, overcoming one fear at a time. Oh, and #EffYourBodyStandards


A Love Letter to My Belly


Often I find meditating on my self and my body is exactly what I need to get grounded. My body is a place that, for a long time, I had separated from. I distanced myself from the random reflections I would catch in a mirror or a window and always be shocked at what I would see. I disassociated from my body, I was not present in it as if I was an alien inhabiting a vessel not my own. The impact of documenting my yoga journey can not be reflected on enough. It has changed my life.

Yoga has changed my relationship to my body. It has again, connected my sense of being and self to my body and spawned a body love and self acceptance journey. Other people’s shaming  can’t compare to my own constant shaming of myself. That will never excuse the bullies out there. I learned that I wasn’t good enough from TV ads, and TV shows, teasing classmates and my well meaning parents, and strangers looking me up and down. The daily microaggressions. The weight loss equals happy life rhetoric became the nasty voice inside my own head beating me down. And its time to let it go. It’s not easy but it is time to reject the “well meaning critics”, the “concerned citizens” and just plain assholes. It’s time to rid myself of my own biases. For me radical self acceptance begins with my big belly. So here is my beginning lovelies.


Dear Belly,

You have been the bane of my existence for my entire life. I struggle with you, you poor neglected friend. I have ignored you, covered you, never able to hide you but tried in spite of that reality. I have wished you away. I have wished for rolls where I have mass, jiggle where I have girth, most of all I have wished you flatter like the mainstream fashion magazines of my youth, like even the plus size magazines of today.

10903645_1546658305615253_2136387726_nThat cute little fleshy area on others is a mountain on me.  I have been asked when am I due too many times. I have been told that I would be perfect if I could slice off this belly of mine. I have believed it too. I am sorry belly. I allowed myself to give in to judgment, the shaming and the littleness of a nation indoctrinated into myself. I gave in to comparisons that serve nothing and no one. Comparisons, do not honor me, my journey and my unique body. Enough is enough. It is time to embrace you fully, as you are. As we are. As I am.10903412_799409473467023_748313952_n

I am sorry for the neglect and admonishment I have directed at you. I see You and I will not turn away from you again. On hard days I will remember the potbellied 3 year old in the bikini at the pool I once was being adorable loving myself and smiling.


I am grateful to you belly for warming me, providing comfy cozy hugs, holding muscles that support my frame and being so responsive to the efforts to strengthen myself. Thank you belly for allowing me to deepen my self love practice and my radical self acceptance journey.                Love, Vanessa.

If you are also in a self acceptance journey, what body part would you write a forgiveness letter to? How do you let go of the inner critic inside?


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The Empowerment Project: Goddesses & Gratitude


If you follow me on Instagram you may have witnessed my Goddess Journey. In my lovely little yoga journey and empowerment project I have embraced the Goddesses. It started in January with a #Goddess365 “challenge.” It was initiated by Karissa @thegivingmom and Haley @haleyblackmenyoga who began our journey with daily prompts around individual Goddesses and archetypes. I  have done many a challenge with the Kundalini loving Karissa and this is my first with Haley. It has been a gift, much like journaling.


It started out as a daily practice and has transformed to a weekly activity this month. I am going on 3 months and 3 weeks into this lovely journeying.

Through it I am constantly revealing myself, learning about myself, tapping into my voice and finding gratitude. I have used this opportunity to will myself well with affirmations, share my joy, and celebrate the daily things I no longer wish to take for granted.   I thought I’d share some of my posts periodically here on the blog for the rest of the challenge. Welcome to my Goddess Journey.


#Goddess365 #TheNurturingGoddess #Day56 The image is a repost from @avocadostonefaces, incredible and inspiring sculpture by #JanCampbell.#VenusOfWillendorf The first time I saw this Goddess, I was elated. Because in her I recognized MY body. It marked the first time that I could imagine being seen as a Goddess. It marked a transformative step in my personal, physical and sexual development. Having recently invited the Venus into my life once again it feels equally transformational, 20 years later. The sense of elation lives in my spirit, like muscle memory. #GoddessLife #Goddess #Spirit #Love#Light #SelfLove #SelfAcceptance #Moon #IamMagic #IamStardust


#Goddess365 #Day80 #TheEmpowermentGoddess #IshikoreDome#ShintoGoddess I celebrate Boldness, strength, freedom and self worth in the light of Ishikore-Dome, Goddess of the arts and excellence. Stones and Mirrors are her symbols and protector of stone cutters. I adore that. Today I am one day closer to my most powerful self. Gratitude to the Goddess! #Love #Light #Yoga #IamStardust #MakeMagic

Today I am grateful for the Universe sending so many reminders that I was meant to thrive.
Today I am grateful for a weekend of Love and Laughter with my tribe.
Today I am grateful to have finished a project for a friend that made me grow.
Today I am grateful for the ability to sit under this roof, at this keyboard and share and reflect.
Today I am elated for all that I have to be grateful for. So very much.

Gratitude to the Goddesses!


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