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Operation Feel Good Naked

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(and the difference between intentions and goals)

It’s the New Year and along with that comes dreams and desires for what we want to see manifest in the next 365 days around the sun.

 

In the past, I’ve done vision boards, created goal lists, chosen my Core Desired Feelings, gotten clear on the habits, practices, and rituals I want to deepen into, and felt into the themes I want this next year to hold.

This year, I’ve done something different.  I’ve reread the Desire Map for the first time since 2014.  But even more than that, I’ve reread it for me – not to be inspired to create a workshop for others, not to list my takeaways in a blog post, but to really deepen into the words and wisdom for myself.  And oh, how much has changed since the first time I read it.

The Desire Map was one of the first books that I gave myself permission to write all over.  There are complete paragraphs underlined, phrases starred and hearted, notes written in the margins of my thoughts while reading it and I’m so glad for it because as I go back through it for the second time, I can see how much I’ve grown since then, see new nuances, have had new aha’s that have touched me in deeper places, and I’ve seen things I didn’t see the first time through.  (Note to Self: write in books more! It’s a powerful snapshot for your own reflection and personal growth.)  

And I’m taking my time with it.  For perhaps the first time in my life as a high achiever, Type A, anxiety prone, a little bit neurotic, and completely 90mph kind of girl, I’m easing into the New Year instead of attacking it at high speed and let me tell you… it feels really good!

Maybe it’s been motherhood that has given me permission to slow my pace and put things into perspective or maybe it was working with a business coach all last year who was adamant about letting pleasure guide you or maybe it’s been the 10+ years of understanding my need to achieve to fulfill my sense of enoughness, working to slow down, practicing mindfulness, and untethering myself from the rush, rush, rush of American dream chasing… either way, here I am.  A little bit slower, a lot more mindful, with a lot less worry and stress, and more intentional than ever before about how I want to feel with the wisdom on how to create it.

So, as I approached the Desire Map this year, I had no end goal in mind.  I wanted to create space to feel into myself, get back in my body, reconnect with my emotions and what I’m feeling now.

A LOT has happened this past year.  Like A LOT!  So much so, it’s been overwhelming a lot of times.  

I’ve worried about my coaching practice – if I’d be able to maintain it and grow it after becoming a mom, I’ve worried about losing myself to motherhood and finding myself all out of balance, sad, disconnected, and overwhelmed (which I have, but I’ve found my way back home. Several times, actually. Sometimes several times all in the same day!), I’ve worried about how moving and buying a house right after having a baby would completely uproot my life, the loneliness I’d feel starting over at one of the most isolating times of my life, staying positive and inspiring for my clients, maintaining my marriage as we go through some of the most stressful life changes all at once, and I’ve felt it all.  Yet most days these days, I feel like I’ve made it to the other side, am finally finding my feet again, and grounding into the new me that’s really just an expanded me.

So, you can see why I simply wanted to reconnect.  

2016 was a big year for me personally and in the background of all these big changes, we also had a cultural upheaval with perhaps the most emotional election our country has ever endured, which didn’t just rock me, it knocked some major cobwebs off and awakened me to shame and pain I’d been carrying for years.  You can read about that here or listen to it on this episode of the podcast.

I’ve been exploring a lot on all fronts and even though in the past this would have seemed heavy and insurmountable, I don’t feel any pressure to figure it all out or have all the answers like I have in the past.  I’ve been quite content to hold space for myself to leisurely explore who I am now, integrate these changes, and explore the old stories I’ve been carrying that have been layered with shame and pain.  After all, I’m no stranger to these things and the more you play in your own psyche and get to know your own soul, these things don’t generate nearly the same amount of fear and discomfort as they used to.

I couple all this with the reading of Love Warrior, which also shook a lot of things loose.  Here was Glennon sharing her story of becoming whole and the messages she’s swallowed from the patriarchy and how it kept her from God’s grace and I had an OMG moment.

YES, this is what I’ve always felt, but could never articulate it.  There’s something about being a woman in institutionalized religion that doesn’t give us the freedom to be all of who we are.  Our sexuality has no place here if we’re to be spiritual and something inside of me has always rebelled against this.  I just had no idea that’s what was going on.

Our purity has always been something that’s been controlled as if our very virginity and NON-sexual nature is more prized than our wild sexuality and freedom to express it!

(More to come on that in my upcoming book, Wild and Holy: One Woman’s Journey to Breaking the Rules, Learning to Love, and Claiming Her Power!)

You still following?  Good!  

So, to add one more layer, motherhood has obviously changed my body and surprisingly, I’m not all up in arms about it.  I really don’t mind too much that my body looks different.  I expect it to.  But, after the traumatic birth I had with Brax, which you can listen to here, I haven’t really been IN my body.  I haven’t been practicing yoga.  I haven’t been feeling my breath. I haven’t been spiritually dwelling there.  I’ve been in my head, sure.  I’ve been in my heart.  But I haven’t really been with my body.  I’ve been like this observer watching it go through the motions, but not really joining with it.

Yet, I see it every day when I get out of the shower.  I see the faint line down the middle of my belly still left over from my linea negra of pregnancy (YES, 7 months later).   I see my ass that’s slid a few inches down my backside, which is super disappointing, and of course I’m still carrying a little extra weight, but nothing a strong solid few weeks of running and cleaning up my diet can’t fix.

Overall, so far, so goodish.

So… A little backstory –

Three years ago, my husband was deployed for 6 months.  When you spend any sizable amount of time away from your life partner, it is imperative that you find things to fill your time and goals to work toward.  This not only makes the time go by way faster, but it also gives you something personal to focus on.  For me, it was something I dubbed Operation Smoking Hot.  I was bound and determined to get in the best shape of my life for me and for my husband by the time he got back.

If you’ve never been away from a life partner for months on end, it can be kind of awkward to get reacquainted upon their return.  In fact, I would say the re-deployment is often much harder than the deployment itself.  You get in your own routine while they’re gone and then you have to reintegrate when they get home.  Sexually speaking, it can be totally weird to hop into bed with someone you haven’t seen in awhile and haven’t touched in months.

BUT, when you do spend that much time away, you think about sex a lot and want it to be the best ever when you’re reunited.  So, Operation Smoking Hot was part of wanting to have a hot reunion with my husband when he returned, part of establishing my own routine while he was gone, and part of having something to focus on that made the time go by faster.

 

YET, this “operation” was still very much focused on our culture’s standards of beauty.  I was hellbent on molding my muscles and physique to the likeness of a Victoria’s Secret Super Model even though I’m 5’2″ and will never have long lean anything.  But, I digress.  I wanted to be healthy.  I wanted to feel sexy.  I wanted to feel hot.  And I did.

I was hustling to make it happen on a daily basis.  Counted calories like it was my job, turned down sugar at the office, ate salad daily, ran my little ass off, lifted during high intensity interval workouts, you get the picture!

I was committed and was willing to forego a LOT of pleasurable things in order to reach this goal.  Back then… I was an all or nothing kind of girl not fully realizing that it isn’t just the goal that’s important, it’s how you feel along the way!

Fast forward 3 years now with all the life changes mentioned above and oh how things have changed!  As I’ve been reading the Desire Map over the past few days, a new desire (well several actually) made their way into my awareness.

I want to FEEL GOOD NAKED.  I want to experience PLEASURE on a daily basis.  I want to explore pleasurable discipline.  I want to have more presence and be more intentional with how I spend my time.  I want to create AND experience a beautiful life!  

And then this new idea came to mind!  Enter Operation Feel Good Naked and although it does involve nudity, it involves a lot more than that.
No longer do I strive for the standards of beauty our culture promotes.  No longer am I worried about having hot sex with my husband (we have that down pat, which is a pretty amazing feat considering our sex life hasn’t slowed down at all with an infant! What?!).

What I’m after these days is to feel so at home in my own skin that I feel good in my body – deep in my bones, deep in my stories, deep in my soul.  

I ache for more freedom and more body love, but even more than that I crave a deep homecoming with my body releasing the messages I’ve swallowed to “cover up”, “not draw attention”, “don’t make men lust”, “don’t be a slut”, and whatever else I’ve been carrying that’s been influenced by the patriarchy.

I want to feel a deep reverence for my capacity to be both sexual and spiritual.  I want to be more confident speaking my truth and being naked that way too.  I want to be more comfortable “making a scene” as Susan Hyatt says and I want to feel good doing it.  I want to be lit up and on fire about being in the arena and not just receiving attention, but asking for it because I have something powerful to say.

I want to feel strong and soft, show some skin if I feel like it, fight back against the sexualization and objectification I’ve endured because of my body, to break free from the way our culture controls women’s bodies when it comes to breastfeeding, slut-shaming due to clothing, and all the other nuances that are so ingrained we probably don’t even notice it.

Operation Feel Good Naked is so much more than simply feeling good about how I look naked.  It’s a spiritual path to heightened sexuality, spirituality, sensuality, freedom, power, femininity, truth, confidence, courage, and bravery.

But also, it’s about treating my body like the temple it is, which brings me to the difference between intentions and goals.

 

The goal is to feel good naked, which will be measured by all the things I’ve described above – feeling more at home in my skin, stop blushing when all eyes are on me, which I’m sure is the urge to shrink instead of expand and not be “too much”, to reconnect with my breath and my bones, and be naked in my truth just as much as my birthday suit.

 

The intention is what I hold on a daily basis as I make the decisions moment by moment that will get me there.

Like: 

  • Eating veggies instead of shit
  • Doing yoga instead of being on Facebook
  • Running instead of calling that friend back
  • Enjoying more sex with my man because I love having a tuned in and turned on life with him
  • Spending more time with myself naked because why not
  • Complimenting my changing body when I look in the mirror
  • Taking midday afternoon baths with salts, essential oils, Indie music, and a good book because I can and it feels both luxurious and indulgent
  • Making sure I’m moving more than I’m sitting each day, which is hard when you work on a computer most of the time
  • Saying “no” to that extra glass of wine
  • Saying “yes” to more mindful eating and making the time to be dedicated to it
  • Finding the joy in the discipline of prioritizing my body and it’s movement
  • Stretching more instead of complaining about being stiff and inflexible
  • Spending more slow, delicious time aware of the breath that moves in and out of my temple
  • Pushing myself out of my comfort zone to be more naked in the world
  • To intentionally say “look at me” instead of listening to the old story of “cover up, be small, don’t be seen”
  • Go out of my way for some extra body love like starting back with chiropractic care, getting facials, massages, and remembering to moisturize (because dehydrated skin is not happy skin!)

 

Operation Feel Good Naked is so personally liberating and decadent. 
To Feel Good Naked feels super good, rebellious in the best way, personally satisfying, and electric – all the good makings of a delicious goal and we’re just getting started on the desires for the New Year!

But deeper than that, it’s a way of reclaiming a piece of myself I’ve given away for a really long time.  It’s the way I’ve cowered when a man has made a comment about my body and I’ve smiled instead of telling him that’s inappropriate.  It’s the way my body has always flushed when I’ve had all eyes on me, which has surely gotten better with time, but why does that happen in the first place?  Was it because I’ve been believing that to draw attention is bad?  Is there a subtle insecurity about my body and others looking at it?  Is it a desire to cover up and be small instead of be seen and be bold?

It’s the way my voice used to quake when I first started public speaking.  It’s the way I’ve had men take off my clothes with their eyes and knowing how objectifying that feels.  It’s the pattern of being critical of myself for pretty much FORever.  Seriously!  I look back on pictures of me during the Operation Smoking Hot days when I thought I was fat and seriously delusional was what I was!  And so is our beauty culture…. amiright?

So Operation Feel Good Naked is a spiritual homecoming more than a goal.  It’s the way I want to feel every day – more at home in my skin, freer in my soul, more in love with my body by being loving to it – not beating it into submission to please some twisted culture’s view of “good”, “hot” or “sexy”.  Subtle shift – much more pleasurable impact!  Pleasure for the W-I-N!

It’s about reconnecting and reclaiming my nudity – to be freer here because freedom is the motivator this year!  As is joy, curiosity, pleasure, and presence and to commit to these with pleasurable discipline!

 

This feels like a good start and I’m eager to see what else the Desire Map will shift loose for me as I deepen into over the next couple of weeks 🙂  Do you have an “operation” this year you’re undertaking?  I’d love to hear it in the comments!

P.S. Special thanks to Kara Keserauskis for the image 🙂  And all links to the Desire Map are joyful affiliate links to return the love <3

  • Michelle January 4, 2017, 2:24 am

    This is spectacular – thank you for every single word. I would also like to connect more with my body this year, and I love the idea of being naked in my own personal truth as well. So it’s not just about physical nakedness, but being comfortable with emotional nakedness. I have a hard time with that, but you’re making it sound like it could actually be a fun journey to explore and discover! Looking forward to following your updates in future posts! 🙂

    • Megan Hale January 4, 2017, 1:53 pm

      I totally think it will be a fun journey, Michelle! One of the things I’m diving into this year is this intersection between spirituality and sexuality. For so much of my life, I’ve carried these stories that pleasure is something that shouldn’t be talked about and it definitely isn’t something a woman “should” want or own. But I think pleasure is something I need to take back for myself and not just sexual pleasure, but looking at all the ways I can bring more pleasure into my life on a daily basis. Like:

      + Physical pleasure – feeling the life force move through my body, letting movement be a priority
      + Maternal pleasure – playing peek-a-boo with my son, seeing his face light up and taking in his big toothless grin
      + Marital pleasure – soaking up those moments holding hands with my husband and sharing a laugh at the end of the day
      + Creative pleasure – painting and sewing and decorating
      + Spiritual pleasure – feeling deeply connected to God, smiling through prayer/meditations, basking in the magic and mystery of it all

      All of this sounds like fun to me and fun is such a powerful gateway to pleasure, right?! Owning my desire for more pleasure feels like the first step. The more I reclaim this piece for myself, I have a feeling that feeling good naked is the next natural outcome. What could be better than owning our desires unapologetically? That’s our truth. Shame less. Feel Good Naked in all ways- Thats the goal <3

  • Lynn January 4, 2017, 2:28 am

    Great thoughts! It would be great if it could become a little mini class!

    • Megan Hale January 4, 2017, 1:54 pm

      Thank you, Lynn! I would love to put something together after I explore this for myself. I’ll keep you posted!

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