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Pleasure Picks are some of my feel-good favorites, each one chosen to stimulate my senses and help ground me into my body so I can be present in the moment.

A Pleasure Pick can be a book, a blog post, a new recipe, a documentary, a song, a rainbow, and really, anything that makes me feel good.

[If you’re new here, welcome. My name is Andra Renee and if you want to know what this blog is all about, read my introductory post here.]

In Unapologetic, I learned how to do an activity called “Sensory Pleasure Mapping” where the purpose is to identify things you love related to each sense.

When I first did the activity, the goal was to list about eight different things…

I struggled.

It seems like such a basic thing, right?

Just make a list of the things you like.

But has someone ever asked you what you do for fun and you went blank?

It was like that for me.

As time went on, though, I began trying new things and discovering what I was and wasn’t into.

Let me tell you, it was magic.

So, the idea of Pleasure Picks is to introduce you to allllllll of the little things that bring me joy and pleasure in hopes that you’ll begin to make your own personal list.

That being said, let’s get into it!

What’s feeling like freedom? Untamed by Glennon Doyle.

Here’s an excerpt from the inside cover:

“There is a voice longing inside each of us. We strive so mightily to be good: good partners, daughters, mothers, employees, and friends.We hope all this striving will make us feel alive. Instead, it leaves us feeling weary, stuck, overwhelmed, and underwhelmed. We look at our lives and wonder: Wasn’t it all supposed to be more beautiful than this? We quickly silence that question, telling ourselves to be grateful, hiding our discontent—even from ourselves.”

My friend first suggested this book to me in late Spring, when I was in the thick of my separation, and a pivotal point in the unraveling, unboxing, and untaming of my identity.

Having spent my entire life following the scripts other people had written for me, Untamed was a gentle but firm reminder that I wasn’t crazy.

There was a deep longing inside of me for more, but when everyone and everything around you says to keep shrinking, you learn to bury that longing and go along to get along.

Okay, so Glennon begins the book with a story about her family’s trip to the zoo, and when I first read the prologue, it was obvious that the center of the story was Tabitha, the cheetah who’d been tamed by the zookeepers.

But, when I read the book a second time, an entirely different character stood out to me—Minnie, the yellow Labrador Retriever.

Minnie is who the zookeeper called “Tabitha’s best friend” who was raised alongside Tabitha “to help tame her.”

It got me thinking about all of the people, things, and ideas that were used to help tame me—y’know, the unspoken rules about what was expected of me, acceptable for me, and allowed or not.

The process of thinking about the ways life has happened to me is very uncomfortable and not just on a mental level, but in the body.

My therapist has taught me how to notice where I feel sensations in my body when I’m talking about particularly stressful experiences and it really opened my eyes to how connected the mind and body are.

Okay, so once I’ve identified those things that I feel helped tame me…I give myself permission to feel my feelings about them.

I feel angry at the kids in school who told me my brilliance, joy, and genius were too much.

I wasn’t old enough to realize that a lot of what they were projecting onto me wasn’t actually about me.

I feel rage at the churches I grew up in for all of the lies they told about God and love.

I struggled with my faith for years as a result of the spiritual abuse I experienced in church and I’m still healing from those wounds.

I feel sorry for myself.

I wish I could’ve fought harder to protect myself, but I couldn’t.

I was just a kid and protecting myself wasn’t my job.

And so I grieve for that little girl, my inner child, whose magic was snuffed out, whose light was turned off, and who had no say in any of it.

And then, I feel a sweet power.

Because as my therapist so gently reminds me, I’m not a kid anymore.

I do have a say in the matters of my life and living, and although I don’t have control over everything, I have a hell of a lot over what I think, say, do, eat, and how I’m going to show up, not only in the world, but in and for myself.

I grieve the ways life didn’t go the way I wish it had, but then I also feel immense gratitude because my story is still being written, and this time, I’ve got the fucking pen.

As we change and grow into higher and higher versions of ourselves, there are amazing tools available to support us, like the unapologetic words of truth-tellers and the support of licensed professionals.

May you listen to the voice of longing inside of you and find what you need on your journey.

À la prochaine/Until Next Time,

A.

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P.S. I’ve been in therapy for a little over two years now and the resource I initially used (and loved) was Open Path. Their therapists work on a sliding scale basis so you can get the help you need at around 60-70% less than a traditional therapy session without sacrificing quality. You can learn more here.

You can learn more about my therapist here.