Taking Stock

I wanted to share with you a great habit that I was taught to carry out at the turn of the year, and which has served me well .. which is reflecting on what happened in the past year and how I handled it.

I love the quiet time in between Christmas and New Year and I made a commitment to myself a while ago to take this time for myself, for quiet enjoyment of the season, the weather, and taking a look back over the past twelve months.

Life has a habit of throwing the unexpected in our way, however well we plot and plan our lives, and often I’ll be surprised at the things that happened that I could never have predicted the year before. Sometimes these are wonderful and sometimes less so: in examining how I responded I find clues to who I am and how I’m showing up in my life and others’

So maybe you’d like to join me. Carve out a little space for yourself in the next few days to ask these questions:

What happened in this past year that I could never have predicted?

How did I respond? Was that helpful to me and those around me?

Who was important to me in the past year?

What one thing would I have liked to be different?

What would I like to do differently in this coming year?

I’d love to hear your thoughts .. do you have any other questions you’ve found useful?

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Relationships Advent Calendar . Day 1 . Forgive for 5 minutes

Happy December .. and welcome to the first day of this challenge that we’ll be carrying out together in the days leading up to Christmas!!

Today is about preparing the ground for the month ahead. Holding on to hurt from the past can prevent us from enjoying our present .. so today take some time to think about someone who hurt you in the past, breathe deeply and send them forgiveness for 5 straight minutes. #adventcalendar

Forgiveness is a funny thing, ideally it takes remorse and taking responsibility from the person who hurt us as well as the willingness to let go on our side. Sometimes though the other person either won’t, or maybe can’t ask for forgiveness if they’re no longer in our lives .. this exercise isn’t for them, it’s for us to be able to let go of that hurt just a little bit more ..

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If You Want Great Sex with a Woman Read This!

zoey-kneesAs a relationship coach and counsellor I think about sex A LOT. I talk about sex all the time with my clients, my colleagues and also (excruciatingly for some) with random people in my life.

Research shows that couples who are constantly exploring ways to make sex more pleasurable are five times more likely to be happier in their relationship and 12 times
more likely to be sexually satisfied.

I can’t speak for my generation but my sex education in the 1980s was poor: what little information there was came with a large side of shame, and (no wonder) by Year 11 I heard reports of girls being sexually assaulted and girls disappearing from class due to teen pregnancies.

So my sexual education came from family, my sexual partners, peers, books and magazines, as well as A LOT of studying academic research papers since I became a relationship therapist. BTW if you fancy a bit of light relief or a cheeky gift for a loved one I’d recommend Bonk, by Mary Roach, a hilarious look at how awful a lot of sex research has been.

And I read about and saw the ‘pornification’ of culture and I worried about how our kids, with no coherent national sex education strategy, are learning about sex from porn. Girls and boys are being told sex isn’t about mutual communication and trust, but about male pleasure, thrusting and violence. And both sexes are suffering. In my practice I speak with couples where ‘normal’ sex means 5 minutes with the lights off, and with young couples where use of porn from an early age has caused premature ejaculation or porn addiction.

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And then along came OMGYES, a sexual pleasure research website. After hearing about the site I was dying to have a good look and I was lucky enough to be offered a preview.

The team behind the site carried out research with more than 2,000 women, aged 18-95, and created a website where real-life women – not actors – share their stories and demonstrate their techniques. Then, users get the chance to practice through touchable simulations.

Because .. different strokes suit different folks ..

The topic has been so taboo that even scientists hadn’t studied the specific, various ways of touching that feel good for different women. I can actually vouch for how taboo because none of the four people I asked to anonymously comment on the website for this article felt comfortable doing so .. just wow!

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OMGYES is for women and the people who love them (approximately 50% of users are female/male). Women can use the site to explore more ways to touch themselves and guide their partners, while partners are adding new, research-based tools to their toolbox.

Fifty videos are organised in 12 sections (pictured above) and for a one off payment you can access the site as often as you like, watching videos in any order and at your own pace. The site also uses tech to the max, with touchable demos where users can practise what they’ve learned (useful if you don’t have a vulva guys!). I found the site ran a bit slow on my (very old) tablet, but on the laptop it was fine.

I was expection the site to be purely about technique, and it was a pleasant surprise to find sections on ‘Framing‘ and ‘Signalling‘ .. those hugely important bits of sex that happen in our brains and come out of our mouths.

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I’ve been recommending this site to clients and colleagues, in fact I might have become a bit of an OMGYes bore, but beauties like this don’t come along every day. I’d recommend it for single women as well as women in a relationship, and when the time comes I’ll be recommending it to my daughter as part of an ongoing conversation about what she should expect from sexual maturity.

To learn more, visit the website at omgyes or follow them on Facebook and Twitter. And tell me what you thought of OMGYes .. email me or contact me through the website.

Mindful Relationships

I was lucky enough to be asked by the lovely people at The Counsellors’ Cafe to write a piece of my choice and I chose Mindful Relationships, because as a practising Buddhist it’s something that I apply to my relationships and to my work as a relationship therapist.

It was fun writing the piece as it gave me a chance to pull out some useful resources for people from the many I’ve collected over the years on being mindful in relationships mindful parenting and mindful families.

Go take a look and let me know what you thought below, or on the Counsellor’s Cafe comments area.

I’m also very excited to be part of the first Mindful Relationships Summit, an online conference from 17 to 21 May 2017 about  how we can create and sustain mindful relationships and embrace love as a spiritual practice. Some of my favourite speakers on mindfuless and relationships like Susan Piver, Rick Hanson and Dr Kristin Neff will be there.

It’s absolutely free and it would be great if you’d consider joining me.

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A Meditation .. Kind Speech

“Do not break the ribbon of love because of a triviality. For once torn it is never again one – a knot always remains.”

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Today .. I think before I speak

Words possess a strong power, regardless of whether the effect they create is intentional or not. We can seriously harm others and ourselves through words. Therefore, we should speak fewer rather than too many words, and weigh them up in the heart before we speak. With friends it is easy to find pleasant, beautiful words, but to treat those we do not count as friends with love and friendship is a great virtue and takes self discipline.

I invite you to sit for a moment, read the words above and let them sink in, then go about your day today allowing feelings about others to rise and asking yourself ‘What does this mean, right now, for me?’

A Meditation .. Flow

“Life is a series of natural and spontaneous changes. Don’t resist them; that only creates sorrow. Let reality be reality. Let things flow naturally forward in whatever way they like.”

– Lao Tzu

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I’ve been doing some fascinating work recently with some wonderful people who have come to me with a range of different problems they’d like to work on.

While each person is so individual, and has been through their own personal challenges and experiences, it’s striking that there is one theme that runs through each person’s unhappiness, which when they’ve been able to see it and work through it has helped enormously, whatever their past and current circumstances.

It takes untold amounts of personal energy to resist reality, whether that reality is that you’re in a relationship (at home or at work) with someone who doesn’t value you, or that you’re living with a debilitating and painful illness. Eventually the struggle wears people out, or it wears the relationship out, and that’s usually when they come to speak with me.

We all do it, and the more we do it the more our blinkers close in, the more we feel anxious and the more we struggle. I invite you to sit for a moment, read Lao Tzu’s words above and let them sink in, then go about your day today letting reality be reality, allowing the changes that go on around you and asking yourself the one question ‘What does this mean, right now, for me?’