Read All About it: Sex, Sex, Sex!

There are some wild tales in this baby!

The Anthology’s out and my work is it in! I’m so thrilled to be a contributor to Unmasked: Women Write about Sex and Intimacy After Fifty. Gloria Steinem even gave us a “glowing” review! Pick up your copy on Amazon.

Reiki and a certain elusiveness are a key part of my essay entitled, The Kickass Formula that Restored My Libido at Fifty. 

“The Female Orgasm. The Big O. That elusive, reclusive Loch Ness of the labia. Does it prove the existence of God, or just His twisted sense of humor?” — Kirstie Collins Brote, Beware of Love in Technicolor

Intrigued?

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What’s this about a “Libido” Book Launch in Santa Barbara?

Yup, sex and publishing has come to fruition “in my book!”

Unmasked: Women Write about Sex and Intimacy After Fifty is out and my work’s in it.

And what’s this about Santa Barbara?

I’ll be out there on Wednesday for the Anthology launch at Carr Vineyards and Winery to read my essay to a crowd of women hungry for advice on rediscovering their sex drive.

My signing pen is ready!

C’mon, ladies, how relevant is this topic?

Women over fifty are “the invisible woman” in American culture. In a society that reveres youth – and particularly young, sexy women – women over fifty fade into the shadows. Yet, for many women at mid-life, this is a time of flowering and coming into one’s own, sexually and otherwise. Many older women love sex and crave the intimacy it provides. For every story of a harried mother who turns her husband away at night, or the older woman who long ago lost her libido, there are legions of others whose sex drives match those of men.

A recent study found that sixty percent of women fifty to fifty-nine were sexually active, that almost fifty percent of women in their sixties were sexually active, and nearly thirty percent of those over seventy were sexually active. So, why is so little attention paid to sex and intimacy among women in later life? Other than a smattering of magazine articles and some academic books, very little has been written about women, sex and intimacy. Oh, there are plenty of how-tos: advice on vaginal dryness and pain during sex and erectile dysfunction. But there is a dearth of work written by women about their sexual experiences after fifty.

This collection of essays and poetry is meant to bring sex after fifty for women into the open, to proclaim that it is important, it is natural and healthy and, for some women, it is absolutely necessary. Unmasked will surprise, inform, and–it is hoped–encourage all women of a certain age to (re)discover their sexuality.

I am so proud to be a contributor to this Anthology. Join me and some other randy women in Santa Barbara for a signed copy of the book and a celebratory glass of wine!

The Kickass Formula that Restored My Libido

Through the closed lids of my eyes, I feel the morning sunlight streaming in.

Hey, it’s the weekend.

I take inventory of my brain for traces of a hangover.

We’re in the clear.

And then I check for any activity that might be stirring in the netherworld between my legs which has, of late, been about as playful as a schoolmarm.

Nothing.

I can hear Chris breathing beside me. Sweet beautiful man, and yet for weeks now no amount of touching or stroking or licking on his part can bring back the phenomenon of rapture, nothing eases our hearty pursuit of it. Chris has tried, I’ve grimaced.

Sex-wise, everything was going great until I hit 50. Because it had been so easy before, I couldn’t understand why climaxing had become like trudging up Mount Washington with a dead body strapped to my back.

A quick Google search advised me to: “Get a pedicure, touch up your roots, spritz on your favorite perfume, get some exercise, schedule your sex, add a toy or two, try porn…”

Nothing.

But lately I’ve wondered if this was about something that KY Jelly can’t fix.

Hidden in my bedside drawer are sweet almond and rose oil and some ylang ylang I got at the organic food store. These oils are aphrodisiacs, but they are also antidepressants, hypotensives, nervines, and sedatives, and while I want that man sleeping beside me to slip inside and have a go, there’s also a reason I want the regular, easy cures to work.

I don’t want to acknowledge the changes going on in my 50-year-old body, the fact that I am no longer wet at the drop of a man’s hand feels like a failure somehow.

And, because I feel like a failure, I’ve been avoiding my body and therefore my self-Reiki practice. Reiki, a wild healing energy we can apply to ourselves, seeks out what’s maligned and out of whack in the body — blocks to creativity, depression, grief. It’s a catalyst to deepening spirituality that can offer glimpses of the divine.

On this Saturday morning with the aromatherapy hidden in my bedside table, I think: And isn’t sex divine?

With self-Reiki, you put your hands on yourself (absolutely anywhere, it really doesn’t matter… your arm, your belly) and bring your life force through your hands and into the body.

So, on this light-filled Saturday morning, because I am dying (literally) to be with the guy I used to crave, because last night during a scotch-induced haze I fell asleep while he was saying, “How about this?” and I was saying, “Nothing,” I put my hands on my abdomen and start.

My hands get warm, and I feel a deep sense of relaxation, not sleep but something wider, more alive.

That energy, whatever it is, doesn’t care whether you can have sex or not, how old you are, if you are getting a pudge around your middle, how many wrinkles have settled around your eyes.

Time slips away, I slip away, all that remains is blissed-out peace. Like drinking a martini — without the edge.

When I finish, I eyeball Chris. His eyes are half-mast, he’s styling an alfalfa hairdo, an imprint from a crease in his pillowcase runs across the right side of his face.

Not exactly a turn-on, but I don’t care. “Let’s give it a go,” I say.

Being a man in love (if he’s not too far under the influence of scotch), Chris is always ready to give it a go.

With a blind hand, I pull the end table drawer open and fumble for oil I concocted from the health food store.

Forget the sticky KY goop, this stuff glides like heaven.

Chris gets his hands on the love rub, goes about the business of inducing the hopeful rapture amid my numb equipment.

I anticipate the onslaught of banter that has ensued for the past few months like doc to patient:

“Here?”

“No.”

“How about here?”

“Nothing.”

Those myriad times when I can no longer tell if his are the hands of a green gynecologist or a prospective cow buyer at auction.

But today something whispers: Hang in, be still.

Be still?

Stop trying so hard; relax. Look, there, out into the horizon.

That little voice sounds suspiciously like my intuition. I don’t hear it very often, mostly because I’m too busy listening to the voices saying I’m not supple enough, pretty enough, I’m past my prime…

The horizon? I ask it.

Behind your eyes.

There’s a horizon in my head?

Just close your eyes.

The atmosphere changes.

And the change is charged.

“Here?” asks Chris.

Humidity — wet blanket type — sweeps in.

“Lisa?”

The storm hits.

The rapture fills me — a delicious swell that comes from the bottom of the ocean, too big to be experienced but a moment or two.

The wave recedes, leaving me pie-eyed, legs in rigor, fists clenched tight.

I look to Chris, who is hovering over me, his expression one of delight, the crease from the pillowcase stretched thin against the smiling muscles of his cheek. Given that he has a technical mind and has a limited repertoire of reactions, it’s rather comical.

“The self-Reiki,” I say, “the essential oils.” I catch wind of my torso. It’s charred in places and emits wisps of smoke.

We may have a formula to bring about a bit of the ol’ spark.

As the blood begins to seep back into my flesh, I let out a laugh — ribald, raucous. Besides having a great partner who will push and prod without feeling like a jackass, and will let you get as woo-woo as you want in the sack, I no longer feel old. Sex can last until 90. We just need to nurture ourselves in order to feel sparked about anything, including our libido.

And, in order to feel the wonders of the Universe, we need to let go and let god, whatever the hell your definition of god is, to be a part of it.

This essay appears in the anthology, Unmasked: Women Write About Sex and Intimacy After Fifty

What Happened When I Performed Reiki on My Conservative Mother

Your task is not to seek for love, but merely to seek and find all the barriers within yourself that you have built against it. ~ Rumi

My mother and I are in her bedroom.

I have the rare opportunity to administer healing energy to her, an act that will draw us together—physically, emotionally, spiritually. We are awkward about touching one another; emotionally, we don’t discuss matters close to the heart. The idea of God and a Higher Presence is strictly private.

This is the nature of our relationship, dictated by her upbringing.

Overwhelmed at the prospect of laying hands on her, I ask her to lie down on the bed. I recall when I needed her support and love—when I first got my period, the aftermath of boyfriend breakups, amid broken bones and excruciating pain—and she conveyed little.

Her convictions, tainted by my bouts of rebellion, are as big as a mountain.

I underwent Reiki training when writer’s block saturated every molecule of my body. Explaining the premise of the healing art to my conventionally-minded parents was like conveying Einstein’s theory of relativity in Swahili.

I read their expressions like an open book.

They figured, like my memoir writing, practicing Reiki was an escape from reality—another endeavor to keep me from returning to the workforce. But to counter their belief, I didn’t offer to demonstrate the various Reiki positions on them—I felt defenseless against their skepticism; this most recent act to sabotage their “please-just-do-the-right-thing” campaign.

On top of it, my dad mispronounced Reiki. No pun intended, he called it “wreck-ee.”

The whole notion of “healing energy,” however, must have taken up residence in my mother’s mind. For a week later, as we were getting out of the car, she asked me to do Reiki on her.

I panicked. Slithered down the driver’s seat like Bugs Bunny doomed in fighter aircraft; blurted some excuses. “I can’t do Reiki on you, Mom. I don’t have my massage table.”

“That’s okay, I’ll lay on my bed.”

“But I don’t have my Reiki playlist.”

“We’ll do it without it.”

“But, I don’t have my sage candle.”

“I don’t need a sage candle.”

“But, Mom, I don’t—”

“Let’s try it anyway.”

We entered the house; Dad is visiting the pharmacy. I tagged along after Mom, up the stairs and to my parents’ bedroom—a charming and spacious room painted robin egg blue, decorated with Victorian furniture and “delicate things.”

Sunlight pours through the dressed window; beyond it, birds chirp, fountains burble. Mom’s lying on her four-post bed and I’m splaying out my hands. Here’s the rare opportunity to impress her with these healing hands.

I tell her to relax, a strange thing to say to my mother. She closes her eyes and her expression softens. I rub my hands together to warm them. I study the features of her face and describe where I’ll be placing my hands.

I take a deep breath as I lay my hands in a V on the crown of her head, crushing her frosted, poofy hairdo and pray her skepticism will melt away. That she’ll leave the room having experienced peace and healing.

She is instantly receptive to my touch. Her trunk sinks deeper into the 500-thread Egyptian cotton duvet. I feel grounded in healing light, my hands growing warm with the energy. The moments elapse, lengthening, slipping us into a realm of peace.

I the giver, and my mother, the receiver.

Floating…

Deeper…

Love and light…

The breach.

It emerges from a great distance away, perhaps all the way across the Atlantic, an outer, invasive stimulus. It repeats, drawing closer, skimming the surface of the sea, its frequency pricking up the hairs of my inner ear. It’s tearing a hole in the veil of peace, popping it stitch-by-stitch up the middle, bringing me back to the place I left several minutes ago—the sunlight, the blue bedroom, the depiction of my mother’s body impressing into the duvet.

I shake it away—my higher self resisting it, swatting at it with my tail as if I were a horse with a fly on my hindquarters—my head writhing, my lips bristling.

“Hello?” The source of the invasion sounds from the bottom of the stairs. “Helloooooo…?”

Dad, I scowl in my head, please occupy yourself elsewhere. You seem to enjoy spending a great deal of time in the bathroom. Why not do that now?

He keeps calling helloooooo—as if my mother has gone beyond the 900-square foot perimeter of the second floor and escaped into some magical fairyland through the guest room crawlspace.

I lose patience at the sixth iteration and shout, showering my mother with spit. “Jesus, Mary and Joseph! We’re up here doing Wreck-ee!!!”

Things quiet down. Dad is mostly likely smoothing his balding head with his open hand in a gesture of acknowledgement. His loafers walk the rest of him down to the family room.

I hone my concentration back on Mom, breathe. She has, despite the disturbance, remained still and relaxed: a state of being that is the typical response to my father’s elaborate greeting and any of his inquiries, for that matter.

I continue doing the Reiki, envisioning golden energy entering and circulating in my mother’s body. When I squint an eye open to read the bedside clock and whisper that the twenty minutes are up, Mom awakens as if from a deep sleep. She begins to speak about her experience. Excitedly. A surge runs through my insides.

Was the Reiki a success?

I squeak out a smile. She isn’t aware of my nervousness; the punch of credibility her testimony could bear.

“Oh,” she begins, speaking softly. “When you placed your hands on my forehead, my mind quieted—the thoughts just scattered. I felt so peaceful.”

That’s totally what Reiki’s supposed to do, Mom! I want to say, clapping my hands together in praise.

Mom’s blinking at half-speed, astonished. “When you placed your hands on my stomach, your hands felt hot, almost too hot.” She sits up, her brow lifts. “When you held your hands around my ankle, a wave of energy radiated at my knee, shot down my shin and out my big toe!”

Yes, yes, Mom! That’s the healing energy of Reiki, not Wreck-ee! I want to say but afraid I’ll lose her in its mysticism. As I gaze at her poofy hair listing to one side and her incredulous grin, I feel something heavy disintegrating: a mountain crumbling.

 

What Happened When I Performed Reiki on My Conservative Mother was published in Elephant Journal.