575482_10151062257366271_489183581_nI first met Polly Superstar in early 2008, when I was visiting San Francisco from New York. Scheduled to be there for nine weeks while teaching and taking classes, I somehow landed at (and basically moved into) Mission Control, a sex-positive arty sexy space, co-created by a brassy Brit with big boobs named Polly.

Over the following year, as I gradually made my permanent move to the Bay, Polly was a constant fixture in my life, inviting me to strange events, letting me couch surf for weeks at a time, and captivating my attention with her ability to find play and inspiration at every possible turn.

But 2008 wasn’t all fun and games. As much as it marked a turning point in my life, Polly and Mission Control were in the midst of a transition that year too. The burden of running such a culturally important yet day-to-day grinding organization were becoming too much for Polly and her partner Scott. This beloved sanctuary of freakishness and fabulosity was threatening to take them under, and it wasn’t clear how it was all going to play out.

That year, as we talked (and talked… and talked…) about what to do with Mission Control, the events, and the amazing community, I got to know a side of Polly that not many had seen. She told me stories from her childhood and from her early days of living in San Francisco. I learned about her history as a latex designer in London and crazy adventures she’d had at Burning Man. I came to love this ballsy broad who, like me, really believed that creating a cultural shift in how we think about sex could can change how we engage with the world, for the better. I found myself hoping that she’d someday write a memoir.

And now she has!

I recently chatted Polly about the tremendous changes in San Francisco, her now-gone-global party Kinky Salon, what she wished she’d known when she was new to the scene, and her new book, Polly: Sex Culture Revolutionary.

30309_425221931270_2802039_nYou have a long-standing presence in the sex-positive world of the Bay Area (and before that, London). Why was writing this book now important to you?

I wanted to tell my story so that the idea of Kinky Salon, and sex culture in general, could be more accessible. I wanted to show my human side with stories that everyone can relate to: having your heart broken, having a parent die, loss and grief, these are themes we all have in our lives. I thought if I could share those stories people would understand more about why I do what I do. A lot of memoirs are written so that you can gain a deeper understanding of someone’s experience without having to go through it yourself. A story of a heroin addict might help the family of an addict have insight into their life. I wanted my story to be a little different. I want people to come to it thinking they can live vicariously through me, but end up wanting to come to an event and check it out. I want to demystify the world I live in.

There have been a lot of changes in the San Francisco sex scene in the last few years, especially as the tech boom is shifting real estate realities for many sex positive organizations and subcultures. Lots of people are feeling pretty pessimistic about what this means for the less lucrative, creative, artistic and sex cultures here in the Bay. But I know you (like me) are an eternal optimist, so what do you see in the SF scene that is currently inspiring you and giving you hope? 

I still believe in the San Francisco dream. We were evicted from our beautiful space last December and that was heartbreaking, but we’re looking for a new home and we’ll find one. We’ve seen booms like this before and they all end the same way. The bigger they are the harder they crash. This one’s huge, so hang on to your hats. In the meantime, the strong and the brave will hang on until it happens.

00c2d6ce8c12587c2edb2aec1bb564c2_largeWhat surprised you most about the process of writing this book? 

I didn’t realize the process of writing would be so cathartic, painful, and healing. In hindsight it’s obvious, but a lot of the stories were from periods of my life I hadn’t thought about in decades. I had buried them. When I excavated I had a lot of personal revelations about myself, and my motivations. I didn’t have any of this stuff figured out before I wrote the book; it was the process of writing it that helped me make the connections. My consciously articulating my most intense stories I discovered so much about myself. I think everyone should write a memoir. It’s cheaper than therapy!

In the book, you talk about your experiences producing Kinky Salon and what goes into creating a place for people to safely explore their sexuality. In your experience, what are the most common challenges people have in spaces like that?

The obvious answer is jealousy, but the core of it is bad communication. Jealousy happens when people don’t feel safe. For most reasonable people it’s pretty easy to make them feel safe. Clearly articulated boundaries, taking baby steps, checking in, and expressing love, all these things help keep the green eyed monster at bay.

Jealousy isn’t the problem, most of the time it’s just a symptom of bad communication.

1002771_10151737288651271_2018963770_nWhat do you know now about sexuality that you wish you’d known when you were younger?

When I was young I didn’t understand that it was ok to have boundaries once sex had been initiated. I was explorative and inquisitive so most of the time I was interested in trying new things if they were fun for me, but there were lots of times where I didn’t stop something that I wasn’t enjoying. I didn’t want people to think I was being prudish, so I put up with things instead of communicating. I think that’s something lots of young women do. Culture bombards us with the idea that being a “tease” is the worst thing a girl can do, that it’s not fair to men. I guess I was just scared to say no once I had established I was slutty. I felt like I had something to prove.

What advice would you give someone who wants to explore the world of sexy parties like Kinky Salon? 

If you’re new to the scene take it slowly, even if you’re single. Come to your first party and don’t have sex. Just check out the scene. Mingle, socialize and flirt a little.

If you meet someone you like, stick to your original plan and don’t have sex with them. The reason I say this is because in the melee of a party it’s easy to get overwhelmed. If it’s your first time you want to build positive experiences rather than pushing your boundaries. Take it one step at a time.


This post is part of the Polly: Sex Culture Revolutionary Virtual Book Tour. If you make a comment in the thread below you’ll be automatically entered in a chance to WIN a LIMITED EDITION signed hardcover copy of Polly: Sex Culture Revolutionary.

The comedian Margaret Cho called it “Raw, untamed, emotional beauty–Polly is a true supernova. This memoir is as touching as it is hot, as moving as it is a masterpiece.”

Buy your copy of Polly: Sex Culture Revolutionary

Join Polly’s mailing list 

Check out Polly’s website

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Click the image below to check out the other exciting stops on the tour.



Embodiment for Brainiacs

November 8, 2014

rodin-thinkerDesire. Bodies. Feelings. Pleasure.

Some of us look at these things with a skeptical eye.

Others run screaming in the other direction.

For a lot of us, phrases like “Listen to your intuition,” “Trust your body,” and “What does your gut say?” sound like gibberish at best, or an invitation to disaster at worst.

But for heady people who have learned to listen to their bodies, the intuitive and gut-level is additional information that can help you navigate your world more gracefully and intelligently.

It’s just information. It’s all information.

And we all know that knowledge is power.

0622130850My friend Leela Sinha and I know this, because we’ve been there. Coming from families of engineers, mathematicians and medical professionals, we both learned from an early age to value the life of the mind, and to “figure things out.” As adults, though, we’ve each come to discover that there’s a lot more to creating a life you love than you can “figure out.”

Sometimes your gut has a lot to say, and it’s worth listening.

We recently got together to talk about this and got into the nitty gritty details of:

  • What it means, practically speaking, to be “embodied” and why it’s useful
  • How to use your body to figure out what you really want (in life, love, work and in the bedroom)
  • Simple practices for listening to your body and figuring out what it wants
  • What “intuition” is really about
  • How to use your body’s wisdom to help your mind make better life decisions
  • And loads more…

It was awesome! Lucky for you, we recorded it.

You can listen right here (right click to download)


bmcoupleDear Marcia,

I’m going to Burning Man this year for the first time with my partner and I want to make sure our relationship doesn’t implode. What are some things we should watch out for?

- Playa Bound

Dear Playa Bound,

Burning Man is a weird and wonderful place where all sorts of mind-blowing stuff can happen. However, some things are predictable. Here’s what to know ahead of time. 

You will fight and it will probably be because you’re dehydrated. If you catch yourselves fighting doesn’t assume it mean the end of the world, and instead check your self-care. My camp has a rule that if you saw two people getting snippy with each other, separate them and make them drink water and sit in the shade for a bit. This rule saved several relationships that I know of. Make it your own. 

Time works differently on the playa. When you’re making dates with your sweetie, try to schedule them according to the sun, rather than the clock. It’s much easier to meet up back at camp “around sunset” than to try to do something at 4pm. Clocks have little meaning in an environment of immediacy, and you’ll only cause yourself frustration if you try to keep both of you on some sort of schedule. 

Expectations will fuck you up. If you think something is going to be a certain way, or your sweetie is going to do a certain thing, you will almost always be disappointed. It is far better to set some intentions, do the best you can, assume others are doing the best they can, take responsibility for getting your own needs met, and then roll with whatever shows up.

Mushroom People at Burning Man 2010There will be eye-candy. Lots of it. Sweaty, scantily-clad eye candy. Get clear ahead of time what is and isn’t okay, and what your intentions are in regards to this eye candy. Do you want to make out with strangers together on Threesome Thursday? Look but don’t touch? Plan one day where you go your separate ways and whatever happens happens? Talk ahead of time about what you each want, but don’t push each other’s boundaries. Burning Man is a strange, magical place, but you want to be on speaking terms when you leave. Respect your boundaries and agreements. 

You will need lube. It’s the desert. When it’s time for the two of you to make sweet, sweet love, make sure you have lube, water, condoms and baby wipes ready to go. 

For more handy tips, check out the Burning Man Relationship Survival Guide. Or, if you’re in the Bay Area, come to my class on August 17th.

Talk things through ahead of time, but stay flexible and spontaneous. Be nice to each other and enjoy the ride! 



photos courtesy quantamlars and michael holden via flickr


yesbymadhavaHere’s a stack of wonderful ways to check in with your partner, to find out more of what they want, and to communicate your own desires. Try some today!

  1. “Do you like when I…?”
  2. “I like when you…”
  3. “Will you…?”
  4. “How does this feel?”
  5. “Do you want me to…?”
  6. “Do you want to…?”
  7. “Is there anything you want to try?”
  8. “Show me what you like.”
  9. “Do you want to go further?”
  10. “Do you want to stop?”
  11. “Can I…?”
  12. “Does this feel good?”
  13. “Are you happy?”
  14. “Are you comfortable?”
  15. “Are you having a good time?”
  16. “Is this good for you?”

* I found this floating around the internet without citation. If you know who gets original credit for this, please let me know!

 Mighty fine thanks to Madhava for the pic.


valentine-heartLove is confusing. It’s messy and unpredictable and wild and untamable. It obeys no laws, adheres to no restrictions. It’ll knock the socks off of you and everyone around you. And the wind out of you too.

What with the wind and the socks, it sort of feels like being in a tumble dryer.

But no one puts that on a Hallmark card.


The Greeks had 4 or 7 or 8 words for love… like ἀγάπη, ἔρως, φιλία, στοργή, μανία.

Wikipedia has a bunch of them. But you can’t find love on Wikipedia.


What I mean when I talk about love is so many things but many of them point to being kind.

Being kind and not being attached.

Being kind and not being attached and expanding. Expanding into something you didn’t know you could be.

And there’s also something about being curious. Endlessly, hopelessly curious.

And devoted. Which implies LOYAL but also implies SURRENDER. (Well, shit, that’s scary.)

Yes. Love is kind and not attached and expanding and curious and devoted and loyal and surrendering.

All that. While not getting lost and keeping your center. With, like, boundaries and stuff(Because if you can’t say “I” then you can’t say “I love you.”)

What I mean when I talk about love is being kind and not attached and expanding into the unknown and being curious and being devoted and loyal and surrendering.

I mean all of that. But what I really mean is being kind.


A lover once said to me, with wonder in his eyes, “Love feels like love.”

Love doesn’t feel like obligation, or coercion, or fear, or doubt, or a battle to be won. Those things might be there, but those aren’t love.

I wanted to take him into my arms and say, “Of course it does, dear.” But he was already there.


Love is safe. Profoundly safe. But it FEELS dangerous…

Can I trust this much? Can I really let go? Can I surrender? Is it okay? Is it okay? Is it okay?

Is it okay?

I don’t know. Is it?

You have to answer that for yourself.


What I mean when I talk about love is that it’s scary to love and it’s scary to be loved and it’s scary to let go into someone loving someone else, and it’s all very vulnerable.

I spend my life helping people navigate all the things around love: fears and boundaries and desires and what about me? and how do you build a life with somebody that you love and what do you do when there is more than one person you love and what if you love someone but the sex isn’t working, or what if the sex is working but you want something else too and so on.

But none of this is love.

What I mean when I talk about love is that it’s worth it.


(Originally published on the Successful Non-Monogamy mailing list.)


Who are your role models?

January 16, 2014

513px-Katharine_Hepburn_promo_pic“She was independent. She chose her way of life – hurting no one and never vying for approval.”

This is what Lauren Bacall said about Katharine Hepburn after her death.

I love this quote for so many reasons. I love it when powerful women build each other up. I love that it reflects Hepburn as the kind of woman who neither needed to be “good” to be great, nor “bad” to be noticed. And I love that it points out that women have the opportunity to choose how we live.

In a time when most Hollywood actresses played to stereotypes, Katharine Hepburn dared to go a different direction. She was labeled “box office poison” early in her career and rejected the Hollywood publicity machine but she made her own (massive!!) success outside of these power structures.

Hepburn donned mannish suits while never caving on her femininity, and found ways of playing powerful characters even as she aged out of being a starlet. After her first marriage ended in divorce, she never remarried, but did have a 26-year committed relationship with Spencer Tracy that she kept firmly out of the public eye.

All of these things point to what it means to be a Great Woman instead of a Good Girl. A good girl would have tried to conform to what the publicists and studios wanted. A good girl would have tried to stay young, and she certainly would have worn gowns and dresses at every turn. A good girl might have tried to reject these constraints by rebelling. But a Great Woman stays in her center, even as life throws its difficulties at her.

(I don’t know about you, but even THINKING about all that “trying” exhausts me!)

The world is full of people and messages that are all about telling you to be unfailingly nice, not “too much,” and ever-accommodating. That’s why it’s crucial to have examples of women who have done it differently. Not necessarily “bad” girls, but actual, grown-ass women who have found their own path and built their own lives on their terms.

In other words: role models.

Katharine Hepburn is one of mine. Who are yours?


Quick note: The Good Girl Recovery Program starts NEXT WEEK, and we still have a few openings left. Among many, many other things, I’ll help you find your role models for the life you want to be living.

Grab your seat now and make 2014 the year of your Great Woman.




The Donner Party.
The threatening hordes.
The family hurricane.
The microscope parade.

What do these words have in common? They’re all terms I’ve heard my clients use in the past week, referring to their families and the holidays.

319693504_bd75a21dfaNo matter how much “work” you might have done on yourself, spending several days in close quarters with people who really, really know you (but also kinda don’t) can be crazy-making. There are explicit obligations and implied “shoulds.” You may find yourself slipping back into old behaviors like people-pleasing or not speaking up. You might have spent all year practicing asking for what you want, but when it comes to the last Christmas cookie, or making sure that you and your partner get some alone time, “what you want” slides to the bottom of the priority list and you find yourself curled up in a ball wondering what the hell happened.

Keeping your center and staying grounded, even in the chaos, can make for the best holidays yet. In that spirit, here are four questions to help you navigate the holiday season, whether you’re spending them with your blood family, chosen family, or some crazy batch of strangers you haven’t decided if you’re going to keep yet.

Question 1: What can I let go of?

Around the holidays, there are tons of rules and things you “should” do, many of which fall under the heading of “tradition.” The problem is, as you go through life and come into contact with more and more people, the traditions, obligations and expectations multiply. The pressure to participate sometimes comes from other people, and sometimes comes from ourselves. But ask yourself: Do I really HAVE to bake 4 different kinds of cookies? Could I let go of some of the decorations this year? Would the world REALLY end if I don’t go the Boxing Day brunch? What would actually happen if I took a nap instead of going to the movies this afternoon with 12 relatives?

Simplify your holiday season by opting out of the things you are doing for no good reason. Check out what you can legitimately just let go of. Ask the people around you how it would be for them if you did things a little differently this year. Remember too, that a no to one thing is a yes to something else.

Question 2: What can I accept is so?

Your ex has always been a bit of a space cadet.
Your mom knows EVERYTHING. (Or at least acts like it.)
You know your dad is going to grumble about making dinner.
This is the third year your partner has tried to quit smoking for New Year’s and he’s ALWAYS a jerk for 3 days.
And the kids never fail to wake you up at 5am Christmas morning.


Getting angry with people for being who they are, and not being what you want them to be is a massive source of stress, especially over the holidays. Wishing they were different is one thing. Getting angry because they’re the way they are is like getting angry because it’s raining when you want to go on a picnic. If you find yourself saying that so-and-so “always” or “never” does something, then maybe it’s time to consider that that’s how it is, and make an alternate plan or adjust your expectations.

Much like a rainy day picnic, accepting what’s so is about finding workarounds and alternative plans. Which means – get creative! If your dad is going to grumble about making dinner, maybe it’s time to find a different chef. If the kids will wake you up at 5am, plan for quiet time after all the presents are opened and squeeze a nap in. If your mom wants to tell you about all of the things, be curious and ask her questions about things she actually DOES know a lot about. And tell your partner that you support his non-smoking, but you’ll be taking a little space for a few days.

Question 3: What can I do for me?

It’s so easy to get swept up in the spirit of giving that your bank account shrivels, your waistline expands, and you start to feel haggard and grinch-y. Before long, you’re snapping at the people you care about, and you’re wondering if it’s too late to return all those gifts and buy a ticket to Tahiti (or Tallahassee). Alone.

It’s time to do something for yourself. Take a page from my dad’s book and buy something you really want and wrap it up with a note from Santa. Or, take a deep breath every 20 minutes. Schedule a real vacation for a few months down the road. Go to a yoga class. Trade babysitting with the neighbors to get a night alone. Go for a run. Set aside some of those cookies you made into a special “me only” tin for you to enjoy after the hordes descend.

(If you find yourself saying, “but there’s no time!” may I refer you back up to the first question: What can you let go of?)

Question 4: What will I opt out of next year?

Much of the time we end up doing stuff over the holidays because someone else set it into motion before we had a chance to figure out which way is up. You can get sucked up into another person’s vision for the holidays, and before you know it, you are trapped in a three-day “It’s a Wonderful Life” marathon.

This is really about setting expectations early and often. If it’s too late to salvage the holidays this year, plan for next year and start setting boundaries now. Appreciate what’s good about being here or doing this thing now, while you’re in it, and then, tell the relevant person that you won’t be participating next year. Think about what you’d rather do instead. Set up a reminder for yourself for next year, so that it pops up between Halloween and Thanksgiving.

(Note to self: DON’T commit to Aunt Edna’s Handel-Messiah-sing-along-and-all-you-can-eat-buffet next year. DO schedule with Jamie and Casey EARLY.)

Best wishes for a very happy holiday season and a spectacular New Year.

PS – The early bird discount for the Good Girl Recovery Program ends Sunday.

Sign up now.

(Might I mention that this also makes a great gift for the awesome-but-overly-people-pleasing-and-wants-to-bust-outta-her-shell woman in your life.)

Mighty fine thanks to Dylan Tweny for the elf pic.



You know what I love? I love it when one of you replies to me and plays the “I Want” Game from the Uncover Your Desires e-course. The answers are so varied and heartfelt and I feel touched every single time one pops into my inbox. Some are simple. Some are playful. Some are so, so sad I can feel the longing and want jump out of the screen at me.

SadnessI found one of my own “I Want” games today, and I wanted to share it with you. This is from a few months ago, when I was in the midst of what felt like an incredible betrayal. My mind was going crazy. I had been hurt tremendously by someone close to me and I was in so much pain. Every moment was consumed with “Why? Why? Why?”

I knew from experience that playing the “I Want” game was a path to reconnecting with my own desires. Circling around the endlessly unanswerable question of why this had happened to me was getting me nowhere, so I played.

It didn’t fix everything (it took months of conversation with the person who had hurt me to sort things out fully, and that bit is still tender for me.) But playing did crack the door open to other parts of myself that were getting lost in the pain. It was reminded me that what I wanted was bigger than just the fear and grief and loss.

Every bit of my own insecurity, ambition and pain is in this list, a snapshot of a moment of desire. So much felt so scary to me at the time, and this “I Want” is my own hurting howl of want, entirely unedited… which makes it especially edgy to put it out for the whole internet to read. But I believe that it’s only by sharing our messy bits that we get the space and permission we need to be whole, so I’m sharing it here with you, now. Here goes…


What I Want…

I want him to pay attention to me, to realize how much I’m hurting, to take more than just 20 minutes and actually GET ME, to realize I’m not demanding anything of him, that I”m simply asking something of him, and for him to give me an answer.

I want to not have to walk away because he won’t give me an answer.

I want to be able to enjoy the incredible beauty I’m surrounded by right now, here at my friend’s estate, without thinking about the pain I feel from having been dropped.

I want to relive that moment of eating the apple and the orange from the garden, slow it down even more.

I want to throw my iPhone in the trash. It seems, in this moment, to be the source of so much of my pain.

I want to pay attention to my breath. I want to not sound so much like a hippie when I say stuff like that.

I want to remember. I want to hold on. I want to hold all these moments. I want to capture these things. I want to not want that, because I know the futility of it, but I want it anyway, and I’m letting myself want it.

I want to be heard. I want to be loved. I want that what he said was true to be actually true. I want my trust to have not been misplaced.

I want to be a better cook. I want to know what flavors go with what and to be able to just know that that is the sausage to get, and those are the greens that go with it. I want to not be intimidated when people are having a potluck and I’m supposed to bring something. There are so many foodies here!

I want to be more disciplined about my writing. I want to be able to transfer the discipline I have in showing up for difficult conversations or creating experiences for people into my writing.

I want to understand the longing that other people seem to feel that I feel so rarely. I want to get what it is that makes other people tick. I want to not feel aversion to some of the things that lay under the surface of that ticking. I want to be able to be with it all.

I want flowers in my home on a regular basis.

I want less of my life to revolve around my damn iPhone.

I want to be sending and receiving more letters in the mail. I consider myself lucky that I have that at all. I want more of that.

I want to be speaking on stage in front of hundreds of people on a regular basis. I want my book to be written and published. I more than want these. I will make these happen. I believe these things will fulfill something deep in me that is more than want. I want to fulfill that.

I want my family of choice to feel stable again. I want to know where I fit in, whether there is a there there anymore. I want to be able to relax into knowing when I will see people and that I will be held. I want us all to stop being in so much pain over so many complex and hard things. I want my friends to stop breaking up and separating and for things to feel settled again.

I want to be producing more than I currently have the means to produce. I want more support professionally, and I want it to feel good and inspiring.

I want to go on a book tour. :)

I want to stop arguing with him in my head. I want to be heard.

I want to know how to end this list.


(If you don’t know the “I Want” game, sign up for the free Uncover Your Desires e-course right here, and you can play too.)


A few weeks ago, I was at a birthday party that would easily win the award for “Awkward Social Event of 2013″. It was a tiny event, with only about 16 people, from two different social circles, and a whole lot of weird dynamics and history amongst the people participating. (Did he sleep with her? Is she speaking to them? What’s going on with those two? IS THIS EVEN HAPPENING?!)

awkward momentNo matter which way I turned, it was painfully uncomfortable. Everyone I knew at the party was dealing with their own awkwardness, so there was no relief in sight, but I didn’t exactly want to leave. After all, I wanted to celebrate my friend’s birthday, not to mention there was also a sort of train-wreck fascination I had with everything that was not being said.

I was stuck, trapped in conversations I didn’t want to be in, with people who weren’t admitting what was really going on, even though I could see it.

In a word, it sucked.

Now, as a rule, I don’t drink in social situations to handle discomfort. I prefer to stay with my feelings and see what can be discovered there, or to consciously choose to leave the situation rather than checking out. But in this case, I was on my way to the bar when the voice of my good friend Kye came into my head, saying “If you don’t like the experience you’re having, do something different. What is the experience you want to be having?”

Suddenly, everything crystalized for me, and I knew what I wanted to do.

Kye and I have had this conversation many times over the 10 or so years we’ve known each other. All group social events — parties, bars, clubs, workshops, Disneyland, you name it — are set up to produce a certain kind of experience. Some are set up well, and some are set up poorly, but there is always something on the part of the people putting it together that is “supposed” to happen.

Most of us just go into the experience, get swept up into whatever is going on, and kind of get spit out on the other side, having had whatever happened to us happen. Sometimes the experience is satisfying, and we might go back, trying to capture that initial feeling again. Other times, like at this party I was at, it can be head-scratching or downright anxiety producing.

The secret is in those two sentences Kye said to me. Let’s break it down:

If you don’t like the experience you’re having, do something different.

Anything different will give you a different experience, although that might not be what you want, either. Still, taking action puts in you in the driver’s seat. And making a conscious choice to do something different keeps you from doing whatever unconscious behavior you would normally do that keeps you stuck in a pattern (like leaving, or drinking, or checking out, or flirting with someone to get validation, or picking a fight with your partner… not that I’ve EVER done any of those!)

If you can’t get so far as to actually creating the experience you WANT to have, you can at least start having a different experience than what you are having, simply by trying something different than what you’ve been doing.

What is the experience you want to be having?

It’s not uncommon before going out for Kye to ask, “What’s your intention tonight? Why are you going out?” By asking before we even hit the party or club, I have an opportunity to ground myself in why I’m even doing the thing I’m doing. If the answer is “because it seems fun” or “because all of y’all are going,” that’s a clue to come up with something more internally motivated, or to consider bailing.

But even if you haven’t thought about it in advance, asking what the experience you WANT to have opens the door for you to get what you want in a situation.

As I looked around the room, I noticed what I was drawn to, and it became very clear that I wanted four things:

  • To cuddle and talk to one of my good girlfriends who was having a hard time.
  • To play with and celebrate the birthday girl in her silly fun ways.
  • To try to connect with one of the people I had my own awkward history with.
  • And to surrender to my not-so-enlightened desire to watch the train-wreck social stuff unfold. (Hey, I never said I was a good person. :) )

What happened next was not all sunshine and roses…

My friend and I clung to each other for dear life for a little while, and eventually relaxed into feeling more playful and less stressed due the physical contact. (That was nice.)

I got to see the birthday girl shine in her particular way, and I felt closer to her for having been there. (Awwww… cute.)

And when I finally admitted I actually wanted to watch everything unfold like it was a soap opera (instead of trying to help or avoid it), I was able to enjoy the silly machinations that humans go through to try to keep themselves safe, and have compassion for the people involved. And, yes, I did laugh at some of it, because I am not always that good of a person. But you know, giving myself permission to be a bad person can often make me a better person. (Score one for embracing imperfection.)

As for the person I had the awkward history with… well. Let’s just say I accidentally managed to make things HOLY CRAP JESUS MUCH MORE AWKWARD. Sometimes, it’s shocking how massively I can stick my foot in my mouth. I mean, seriously, a clusterfuck. An OMG-Did-That-Actually-Just-Come-Out-Of-My-Mouth, I-Totally-Didn’t-Mean-That clusterfuck.

(The jury’s still out on that one. I don’t know if I will ever be able to hang in the same room as that guy without wanting to hang my tail between my legs.)

But you know what? I stayed til the end of the party, and Clusterfuck Of Doom aside, I actually ended up having a really good time. Even at the Awkward Social Event of the Year.

How do you handle awkward moments? Let me know in the comments…




yesnomaybeSeveral years ago, I co-founded a touch-and-communication workshop called Cuddle Party. In it, we have rules that say that if you’re a yes, say Yes. If you’re a no, say No. And if you’re a maybe, say No. (Because you can always change your mind later.)

Many people have thanked me over the years for the simplicity of those rules, especially “If you’re a Maybe, say No.” They have been grateful for permission it has given them to simply say “No thank you” and have the space show up to figure out what they actually want (if anything) from a given situation.

But I haven’t always lived my life by that rule. In fact, there have been long stretches of time when I’ve said Yes to things that I was a maybe on, simply to see what happened. And some of the best, hardest and most impactful experiences of my life have happened when I’ve done this. “If you’re a Maybe, say Yes.”

So which rule should you adopt in your life? Well, what is the thing you need to be practicing more right now?

Pushing your edges and having experiences 
~ or ~
Knowing your edges and practicing boundaries 

Despite the YOLO (You Only Live Once), Robert-Frost-Road-Less-Traveled fetishizing in American culture, pushing your edges isn’t always the best path for many of us. A lot of us have had our boundaries pushed or disregarded so often that it’s almost impossible to tell where our actual edges are. And if you don’t know where your edges are, pushing them can be dangerous or toxic.

In fact, pushing your edges often works best when you have a well-developed No muscle. So if you are working on knowing your edges and boundaries, say No when you’re a maybe.

But, if you’re feeling stuck, or wanting to shake things up, or are craving an experience of knowing what you’re made of, you may be a candidate for exploring what a committed Yes does in the face of a maybe.

What if you’re a maybe to both of those options?

Indecisive-womanI encourage you to try both, starting with the No. For a week, see what it’s like to say No whenever you’re a maybe. A friend wants you to go to a movie that you don’t know if you want to see? Your boss asks if you want to take on a project you’re uncertain about? Someone you aren’t sure if you’re into asks you out on a date? No, no and no. Look at all the space that emerges when you’re a clear no, instead of waffling in the maybe. Feel how good it feels to focus only on the things you’re a hell YES to.

The next week, see what it’s like to say Yes whenever you’re a maybe. Yes, I’ll go see that movie with you. Yes I’ll take on that project. Yes I’ll go on a date with you. Notice what things have you feel lit up and excited (those are clues about your desires) and what simply has you feel overwhelmed, even if on some level you like the idea of it. As you do the Yes part, keep saying No to the things that you are a clear No to.

I’ve found over time that there are periods or areas of my life when it’s better to have one default setting or the other. Sometimes I’m a default Yes in business and a default No in relationship (or vice versa). Sometimes I’m a default Yes to everything for a week or two when things feel stuck. Sometimes I’m a default No all over my life when I feel like I’ve lost my center.

Play around with your default settings, but decide ahead of time how you want to handle your Maybes.

What do you think? Can you see how this could work in your life? Let me know in the comments…