7 top tips for self-pleasure

Review your beliefs about masturbation and self-pleasure… Is it something that only ‘other’ people do? Is it a second choice to sex with another person? Is it something you can only do on your own? Can you only do it if you have a sex toy to play with? Once you’ve identified your beliefs, you can explore them a little bit more: where (or who) did this belief come from? Does it serve you to keep believing it? What might you choose to believe about masturbation and self-pleasure instead?

Include your whole body – not just your genitals – in your pleasure. Experiment with touching parts of your body with different kinds of touch. What feels good? What do you want more of? Touch yourself with the hands of a lover.

Give yourself permission to include self-touch and self-pleasure as part of your wellbeing routine. There are numerous benefits to self-pleasure. Some people find it helps them reduce feelings of stress and sleep better, for others the benefits may include feeling better about their body image or rebuilding feelings of safety around touch. Whatever benefits it brings you, know that you have permission to include this in your life just as you would attending a yoga class, reading a self-development book, or going for a walk in nature.

Normalise using lubricant for solo (and partnered) sex. Choose one that is body safe, doesn’t contain any parabens or other ingredients that could upset the delicate pH balance and sensitive tissues of your genital area. I recommend Yes Organics and Sutil (both available from JoDivine.com).

Try new things! Don’t get stuck in a masturbation rut – always using the same technique may feel like a reliable way to get yourself off, but we learn more about our body’s pleasure by experimenting with new things. This is especially important as our body changes over time: things that used to feel good may no longer feel that way, and there may be new ways of experiencing pleasure that your body has opened up to.

What happens if you broaden your definition of ‘pleasure’? Think about all the moments in your day when you could pause to notice pleasure: the first sip of morning coffee, waking up to the sound of birdsong, pulling on a favourite pair of comfy pants… We can build our pleasure receptors by noticing and appreciating these everyday moments.

Involve all your senses. Do you make sounds when you make out with yourself? Have you ever tasted yourself? What about your sixth sense? What does your intuitive self want you to know about how to experience pleasure? (Curious to find the answer to this one? Try my guided meditation: Meet your Sexual Self)

And, finally, if you never feel like masturbating or it’s simply not something you feel you want or need in your life, that’s fine too. You get to choose. Pleasure (in its broadest sense) is important, however, so how else might you include things in your day that light you up and make you feel good?

Would you like to be a Pleasure Seeker?

Midlife can be a time when we review and question *everything*.

It can be a time when we no longer put up with pleasing everyone else – and sacrificing ourselves in the process.

It can be a time of letting go, stepping into the unknown, and discovering new things about ourselves.

It can also be a time of overwhelm, anxiety, and feeling lost and uncertain.

When it comes to your sexual self in midlife, there are plenty of messages ‘out there’ about how you ‘should’ be. We’re told our libido goes, we dry up – physically and in terms of our desires. We’re told sex becomes less important – and we become less desirable. We’re told we should accept our fate or go on HRT to turn back time/stop the clock. We’re told we have to work harder to ‘keep our figure’. We’re told to dye our hair to cover up the greys.

We’re told – as we have been throughout our lives – that our worth (in great part) is dependent on our sexual attractiveness and desirability to others.

And then, when we can’t keep up with all of these expectations and demands, we’re told the only other option is to pack away this part of us – for good – and be content with our hobbies, our children and grandchildren. We’re told we should be grateful, even, that we no longer have to ‘bother with’ all that sex stuff.

But what if you chose to write your own story of midlife sexuality – instead of the one others are telling about you? What would you want your story to say?

What if we question the assumptions and, instead, ask: is this true for *me*?

Has your libido gone? Or do you simply desire something different to before?

Have you been expecting to feel spontaneous desire – like you may have done in your 20s? Or do you know what your responsive desire enjoys responding to – now, as you are, at this time?

When your body feels like a difficult, painful, unpredictable place to inhabit, what happens when you focus on creating an environment of pleasure?

You can choose to avoid pleasure, or to passively notice and consume pleasure when it is offered to you, or to actively seek out and create pleasures (yes, plural) in your life.

What happens if you become a Pleasure-Seeker in perimenopause?

Pleasure, for me, includes:

  • Wearing clothes and colours that delights me.
  • Savouring delicious tea, made in a teapot, and drunk from my favourite mug.
  • Receiving sensual touch – fully allowing myself to receive and enjoy it – from myself and others.
  • Inviting the whole spectrum of orgasms: from quick, tension-releasing ones, through to deep, heart and soul-affirming, full-body-trembling ones.
  • Meeting my needs as best I can – being an exquisite lover and caretaker of my Self.

How about you?

To find out more about my upcoming Pleasure Course, sign up to my email list (and get a free book) HERE.

Who was your first crush?

I was 17 and working a Saturday job in between studying for my A Levels and making new friends at the small-town Technical College I’d just transferred to. Before that, I’d spent a year at a city centre Sixth Form College. I was missing my friends and my old, cosmopolitan life. My new setting didn’t seem to hold much joy for me and I felt like I was going through the motions of life instead of fully living it. I was also feeling lonely. Everyone else seemed to have already paired off into girlfriend-boyfriend couples. I never met a boy I fancied, though, and it was only me and a few other odd bods who were still single.

One Saturday, after work, I switched on the TV while I was waiting for dinner.

This was back in 1990 and TV in the UK consisted of four whole channels. Channel 4 was the newest on the block and my mum frowned upon it for being too avant garde and controversial.

She was occupied in the kitchen so I switched the TV onto Channel 4. There was a music show playing – a country music show. I half-listened and watched the singer, reflecting on my day and wondering how I’d spend my Sunday.

The host of the show announced the next singer and a tall figure dressed in a sparkly blue cowboy suit strode onto the stage. I saw a spiky quiff and smouldering eyes that would have made Elvis envious. And then the song began…

Oh, that voice! Rich, dripping in emotion, seductive… And matched with looks to the camera that said “come hither”.

I hithererd.

In fact, I knelt in front of the TV screen, leaning in to get as close as I could to this vision of loveliness.

As I watched in awe, one thought kept going through my mind:

I don’t know if you are a boy or a girl, but you are what I want.

The song ended. The singer waved and walked away. The show host’s voice said, “Thank you kd lang!”

kd lang. Is that the name of a boy or a girl? I was none the wiser. This was way before we had the internet so I had to sit with my unanswered questions and unexpected feelings.

It wasn’t that I hadn’t had crushes on girls before. I had. I’d had a crush on my best friend, my English teacher, the girl in the year below me who played the trombone… I’d even shared a kiss with a girl. But I’d never met someone so androgynous and so seemingly confident in their sexuality as kd lang.

A trip to the music store that week saw me spending my Saturday paycheque on my first kd lang LP and discovering that she was indeed a she and that I was truly and totally in love.

At 17, I knew I wasn’t in love with the actual kd lang – but I was in love with what she represented. We just didn’t have butch, androgynous, confident, sexy lesbians in the media in the 80s and 90s. At least, none that I had come across before.

I wanted her and I wanted to be her.

I wanted to know that I could create my own way of being a sexual woman – a way that didn’t have to involve high heels, eyeshadow, and putting up with boys’ farting jokes. I was only 17 and at a pivotal point in my blossoming sexuality. kd lang was the sunshine and the rain that helped me to grow. From that first encounter, worshipping her on my knees in front of the TV screen, I learned what my sexual attraction felt like – I learned what my sexual desire felt like.

A few years later, having made it out of the small town and to university in Edinburgh, I was in a café bar (the Filmhouse) and, out of the corner of my eye, I saw a figure stride towards the bar. Blonde hair – not dark like kd – and wearing a black leather jacket and blue denim jeans – not a rhinestone covered cowboy suit. Despite the lack of visual similarity, I instantly recognised the same androgynous sexual confidence I’d watched that day on Channel 4.

Through a series of events that were part synchronicity and part deliberately manufactured by me, we ended up in my bedroom.

My delight in her butch androgyny was matched by her delight in having someone who appreciated and was attracted to the real her. She kissed me firmly, her chin bruising up against mine, as one hand snaked around to unclip my bra. “That’s better,” she said, as my large breasts swung free for her to fondle while we smooched.

Her breasts were tiny in comparison, and she never wore a bra, but she welcomed me playing with her nipples too.

It wasn’t my first time making out with a woman but it was my first time making out with a woman quite like her. My first time being with someone whose self-confidence and self-assurance when it came to fully inhabiting their authentic sexual self, meant that I could take the risk and inhabit mine fully as well. I wasn’t trying to keep up – I was being carried, effortlessly, on the wave of mutual attraction, lust, and appreciation.

Up until then, sex had always felt like a bit of a performance to me. I’d been a spectator in my sexual encounters, worrying about how I looked, worrying about taking too long to orgasm (or faking it because I convinced myself I couldn’t come). But this time I surrendered all of those worries. Even though our bodies were so very different, her confidence in hers allowed me to feel more confident in mine.

The sex wasn’t perfect but it didn’t have to be. It was real, passionate, messy (at times), and ultimately set me on a path of enjoying my sexuality my way.

I still have a soft spot for androgynous butch women. Several decades on, we have new language and understanding of the spectrums and rainbows of gender and sexuality, and I define myself as queer. For now, that seems like the best way to encapsulate my range of sexual attractions, and how it feels to inhabit an ever-changing body. It also gives me space to allow my sexuality to continue to grow in other ways.

The first album I bought of kd lang’s was ‘Absolute Torch and Twang’. The cover shows an image of her wearing blue denim and holding a cowboy hat, standing in a grain field, with a bright and expansive sky overhead. She’s gazing confidently into the distance. She taught me to embrace who I am, to be expansive, and to be confident. Thank you, kd lang.

Do you want to have a go at writing your stories? Access my free Erotic Writing Guidebook here and stay tuned for more writing opportunities and events!

Could you be demisexual?

A lovely person invited me to talk about demisexuality as part of my Ask Anna series.

Here I talk about:

✨What demisexuality is

✨How mainstream culture reinforces only a narrow view of sexuality

✨Why it’s good to open up discussion and give platform to more variety

✨How labeling our sexuality can be helpful

✨ My personal challenge to walk my talk and include more sexual variety in my erotic writing.

So, you want to start writing erotica? Here’s a beginner’s guide

I recently asked people to share their questions with me and I’ve been recording short videos as my answers. This week, I answer your questions about getting started with writing your own erotica.

I talk about:

  • How to find the time to write.
  • How to know what to write.
  • How to give yourself full permission to ‘go there’ and to write shamelessly!

Watch the video here:

You can also download my free erotica guidebook here.

And join in my pre-recorded writing workshop here.

Five things I’ve learned about desire

1. Retaining my desire for desire is what matters to me most.

As long as I can feel my desire for desire, I know I’ll be able to navigate the seas of change.

2. Staying curious and creative allows me to stay open to finding and enjoying new desires.

My desire is not a one-time, set thing. It changes, fluctuates, emerges, hides, even does a 180 at times. Staying open to all of these things – and not trying to cling on to only one, familiar way of relating to my desire – means I get to explore and grow and expand and, ultimately, keep choosing.

3. Arousal and genital feelings are only one part of a much bigger picture.

I can feel my desire as a lust for life, not just lust for another or sex or orgasm. When I channel my desire into my whole life, I realise just how potent and creative this aspect of me is.

4. Self-sufficiency matters.

Yes, being able to share my desire with others matters too, but the only person I can guarantee I’ll have in my life, is me. I am my own lover first, foremost, and always.

5. Pleasure and desire come in many different forms.

When I tune into my whole self and ask “what do you need, what do you want, what will light you up?” I hear my body yearning for a dip in the cold sea, I hear my craving for slow, sensuous touch, and I hear a whisper reminding me that my potential for pleasure is unlimited.

Of course there’s LOTS more to say about Desire! You can read more in my book ‘Desire Lines’.

Image by Chris Barbalis on Unsplash

Find out more behind-the-scenes insights and sharing by joining my community email list (and get a free guide to writing erotica too!)

Growing desire into pleasure

Desire is longing, anticipation, yearning, having and not having.

When I write about desire I often feel it as an ache, an empty space waiting to be filled, a delicious potential.

Pleasure is in the moment, embodied, felt and received.

When I write about pleasure it is in my active voice, it is something I have, something experienced.

I’ve been curious of late about the differences between these two, and the relationship between them. Why I am drawn to write about one more than the other. Why it sometimes feels more comfortable to write about longing than it does fulfilment.

Perhaps it comes down, in part, to owning the fact that – ultimately – I am responsible for my own pleasure. It is something inside of me, not something out there. My pleasure is something to be created rather than found. Yes, I can choose to co-create with a willing and enthusiastic other, but I can’t expect them to bring me my pleasure (like the old TV advert where the man swings through the high-rise window to present his chocolate box offering “all because the lady loves Milk Tray”).

We’re not taught this though. We are taught that desire is a sign of something we are lacking and need to obtain. We’re not taught that desire is a signpost to our inner world.

Desire is the seeds that we plant in our inner landscape. We nurture them. We attend to them. We allow them to grow and, when we are ready, we can enjoy the fruits and flowers of pleasure that harvesting them offers us.

It feels radical to know that my pleasure is already within me, waiting to be harvested.

And what about when I choose to share that pleasure? When I choose to add my fruits and flowers into the garden of another Eden where someone else’s seeds have been nurtured and grown too? We can share our mutual harvests but we need to each bring something to the table: I can’t expect to feast solely on their offerings and neither can I allow them to feast solely on mine.

We co-create our mutual pleasure, grown from the seeds of our individual desires.

Pleasure is embodied. And that means I have to allow myself to feel it. To feel excitement, joy, delight, rapture, and love.

Those are big feelings. Bold feelings. Courageous feelings.

Pleasure is not passive. Pleasure needs to be received, allowed, accepted. Desires can remain dormant until they are given the attention and actions they need to grow, evolve, and – if we choose – be realised.

I’ve been taught how to brush the feelings of want and longing under the carpet, to shift my focus away from them and onto something ‘more  important’. But if I never nurture my desires, how can I allow myself to fully understand and enjoy pleasure?

And pleasure is important! It feeds into my vitality, my wellbeing, and my ability to make my contribution to the world. We all benefit from pleasure. We each remember who we truly are – touch our soul’s magnificence – through pleasure.

Walking my desire lines is my active pursuit of pleasure. But my desire lines are also about more than just pleasure. Walking my desire lines is my path to self-awareness and self-understanding, my path to self-expression. Ultimately, walking my desire lines is my path to embracing more than just the potential for pleasure; I walk to step into pleasure, bringing the whole of me on the journey – body, mind, and soul.

Read more about walking our desire lines (click) here.

And please join my mailing list to find out more…

PleasurePractices #2: Magical, powerful, intentional

These PleasurePractices are a record of my explorations with medibation — masturbation as meditation. Exploring self-touch and self-pleasure from new angles.

Not so much a ‘how-to’ but more a series of ‘what-ifs’. I share these openly along with an invitation for you to explore your own what-ifs:

What might you like to give to yourself, and to receive? What might you try that you’ve never tried before? What pleasure might you create? And what else might you discover?

I want to call in my magic.

I want to call in my power.

I offer myself to something greater – it is time to fully claim my soul’s magnificence.

I bind my breasts together to make them stand proud and to bring my nipples close enough that I can touch them both at the same time: the flat of my palm grazing them and sending instant requests to my cunt.

I massage lube over and inside me. Firm strokes. Awakening, enlivening strokes.

My palm brings my nipples to stiff attention. My fingers enter me, preparing the pathway for deep magic.

Now, it begins.

With fingers of one hand, I begin to circle my clit. My other hand moves to my face and an anointed finger matches the rhythm below as it draws circles on my brow, over my third eye chakra.

I am bringing my vision to life.

Calling in my power.

Stoking my desires with my sexual energy.

Potent. Powerful. Purposeful.

I am strong.

I am feeding my hunger so it can roar from a place of having rather than lacking.

I am my own power – my own pleasure.

I am magical and magnificent.

I welcome it all: the colours, the sounds, the sensations.

I take it all.

And – from that place – I create.

Do you want to explore more? Sue Sutherland of The Feel Institute is offering a 3-part, online course during March 2021, for people with a vulva: Self-touch, vulvae, and sex toys. (click the link for more info and to book)

I am assisting as part of Sue’s Crew and would love to see you there!

PleasurePractices #1: Slow, slow, sensuous, slow

These PleasurePractices are a record of my explorations with medibation — masturbation as meditation. Exploring self-touch and self-pleasure from new angles.

Not so much a ‘how-to’ but more a series of ‘what-ifs’. I share these openly along with an invitation for you to explore your own what-ifs:

What might you like to give to yourself, and to receive? What might you try that you’ve never tried before? What pleasure might you create? And what else might you discover?

Just me, some lube, a bed, and time. Touching myself gently and reverentially. Stroking, soothing, relaxing my body and my emotions. Creating safety, and landing into this sacred space. Away from all the external noise and demands. Just me, some lube, a bed, and time.

I let my slickened fingers stroke my vulva. Exploring the shapes and textures. Slowly. Sensuously. Unhurried.

Mmmm…how does it feel when I touch myself there? And like this?

Ah, yes. Oh, that feels good. Again, please.

No goal. Not in pursuit of anything at all. Just touching to experience pleasure in the moment.

My cunt is a sacred site. I am worshipping her with my touch and my attention.

Slowly. Sensuously.

Exploring how she wants to be touched. What she wants to receive. Building my pleasure, stroke by stroke. No tension. Just relaxed receiving.

I gift this to myself. This unhurried luxury of time, touch, and tenderness.

What happens if I keep it slow? Where usually I would want to speed up and tense up and get myself off – what happens if I do it differently?

What happens if I devote myself to this worship?

What happens if I don’t try to hurry it?

What happens if I just keep giving myself more and more moments of pleasure? And if I give myself full permission to receive it all.

The pleasure builds. I expand. My body moves and I utter sounds.

I am making love: deep, worshipful, reverential, self-honouring love.

Slow, slow, sensuous, slow.

I allow it to engulf me and carry me. All this pleasure.

A deep, heart-inclusive orgasm. I am awash with love and receive it fully.

“So beautiful,” I whisper, in awe.

Do you want to explore more? Sue Sutherland of The Feel Institute is offering a 3-part, online course during March 2021, for people with a vulva: Self-touch, vulvae, and sex toys. (click the link for more info and to book)

I am assisting as part of Sue’s Crew and would love to see you there!