How do you see yourself as a catalyst for change?
We are either a warning or an example – I focus on being an example of all I believe makes life worth living. I speak and teach first from my heart and personal experience then frame it with the knowledge and wisdom I’ve acquired along the way. It must be reasonable and doable for me to teach it.
My professional focus leans towards empowering women to grab hold of ownership over their lives and all their experiences; including, and not limited to, their pleasures and pains.
For the younger women who watch me closest (three daughters and three granddaughters to start with), I openly evolve without shame or self-limiting beliefs. For example, in my late 50’s earning my doctorate in human sexuality degree, traveling around the world to teaching women self-empowerment, and starting a You Tube Channel called Nearly Naked Yoga. Their eyes are wide open to the limitless possibilities of their own lives through my example. This may very well be my legacy; one of them anyway.
Who or what was a catalyst for you?
In 2005 my husband and I, as new empty nesters, took a leap and went to a resort in Jamaica called Hedonism. Our experiences open our minds to possibilities unknown before, enhanced our intimacy and reawakened my sexuality to a new level.
At the time I was 48, already a grandmother and suddenly aware of the beliefs I had around aging and grand parenting that were greatly influencing my feelings of desire and desirability. I could hear my own mother’s values and beliefs around being an older woman creep into my consciousness. It became clear that by allowing this self-doubt I was stunting my freedom to fully express and embrace my inner sex goddess. This gave me reason to pause and rethink my old programming around being a woman, wife, mature, a grandparent, etc. Thank goodness, I did! That vacation changed me, us, my profession, and ultimately, my future.
Fast forward to 2017 – I am now the CEO of Exotic Lifestyle Retreats and for the past 10 years have been creating events for women, men and couples to go to Hedonism Resort in Jamaica. Guests are able to experience, with my team’s support and guidance, a chance to rethink, revise and reunite with their own sexual freedom of expression, on their terms. I’ve witnessed more awakenings than I can count and they never cease to amaze me. This, along with my 23-year Yoga practice/profession, has emerged as my Conscious Living Sexuality™ umbrella.
The two people who have been the greatest catalysts for me are my husband and muse, Mark. He has given me the gift of always loving me for being me – and all my evolutions. He lovingly calls me a “moving target”. One of the most powerful things he has said to me is, “If I were to direct your path in any way, I’d miss the chance of intimately knowing the real You. That is who I am interested in knowing.” Yea, he’s a keeper.
Dr. Ava Cadell is the second person who has been a catalyst of significant change in my life. The day I met Ava, in my quest to find fascinating judges for an erotic film festival I created in 2012, was to be a serendipitous moment in my life. At that first meeting, she asked me where I saw myself in five years, for which I replied, “sitting behind a desk like yours, doing the work you are doing”. Prior to that day, this was not a conscious thought for me thus surprising even myself.
Since that day, she has been the most generous and honest mentor. Her guidance led me on the path to earning my Doctorate in Human Sexuality and becoming a global Holistic Sexologist. Being able to add this new body of knowledge to my 30+ years as a registered nurse, health educator, yoga therapist, radio talk show host (The Conscious Living Show), and author, has enriched my life in countless ways. I have much to thank her for – most of all for being a beautiful example for all women to learn from.
What do you feel are some of the most important/valuable changes that have been made in our current society and the field of sexuality?
I’m in awe of the rapidly growing community and eclectic mix of sex positive, highly educated professionals who represent the field of Sexology. We are collectively accessing the powerful force of media to move discussions, covering all areas of sexuality, into living rooms rather than just bedrooms. As these conversations become more commonplace, there will become more comfortable and hold less shame and fear. The benefit is, our future generations will be better equipped to build healthy sexual attitudes thus healthier and happier intimate relationships.
What do you feel are some of the biggest challenges or concerns facing us in society and the field of sexuality today?
Healthy, Honest Sex Education for our youth (and their parents) is a massive hurdle. So many pockets of our society are still in the dark ages thinking that keeping kids innocent, aka ignorant, will somehow protect them. Yet, access to the internet has changed the level of exposure to all information, including what is unhealthy and misinformed. Without comprehensive and real information, they turn to peers and porn for their education; and we all know how well that is working out.
Why is your Catalyst Con presentation topic importation to you?
Women are suffering from ignorant and self-serving media influence. They are buying into the belief they are not good enough, thin enough, young enough, perfect enough, etc. They’re flocking to surgeons and subjecting themselves to horrendous, often disfiguring, procedures and expensively ineffective treatments; all in search of a feeling of self-acceptance. This is a viscous, self-defeating cycle since the entire beauty industry makes its billions from our lack of self-acceptance.
Once we have subconsciously or consciously bought into these messages, we become the propagators. If we can propagate this message, I believe we can awaken to the impossibility of ever meeting the beauty industry’s proposed ideal of “what is acceptable”, and take back that power of self-love by being real and being real happy about it.
“Celebrate our uniqueness rather than attempt to look like another for acceptance to be earned.”
I frequently ask women, “What would it be like to embrace our tear drop breasts, stretched skin from our babies, smile and expression crinkles on our faces and our silvering hair? To be excited about our finally and magnificently matured body after creating a life?” The more we ask and imagine, the more we can create a new reality for womankind. The implication that these are flaws requiring correction, we do a harmful disservice to women everywhere who are distracted from living their lives for the pure joy and experience of living rather than for the pure acceptance of others.
Share one unknown (or little known) fact about yourself?
As a yogini, I’m often mistaken for being passive. This couldn’t be further from the truth. I have a fierce protectiveness against injustice, especially when it pertains to the vulnerable and voiceless. My family certainly knows this about me, however the outside world might not see this unless provoked. This makes me a strong advocate and loving supporter for the voiceless who wish to learn to speak again.