Four Ways to Maximize the Last Days of Summer

How can it be August already? I mean, actually, how? I feel like I was just packing up teacher gifts and bracing myself for summer vacation to begin, and now we’ve only got 30-ish days left before the kids are back in school and (gulp) my little one begins kindergarten. July was filled with incredible family time and epic birthday celebrations (I turned 40, more on that later!) and we’ve promised ourselves that we’d slow way down this month and focus on relaxing, being as lazy as we can get away with and spending time with our kids. Here are some ways to maximize the last days of summer:

four ways to maximize the last days of summer

1. Make a Wish List

The last weekend in July was the first we had free in over a month, so we spent some time as a family chatting about the things we’d like to do before the warm weather is done. This was a great way to connect and get a sense of our family’s needs.

Here’s some of the stuff we came up with, in case you need inspiration:

More gardening time when the heat lets up (we’ve had a drought here this year.)

A family trip to an amusement park

Sleeping outside in the tent

Visiting with cousins

Lazy meals cooked outside

Family swim time

A weekend in the big city

Visiting our in-laws

Reading books

Laying on a blanket in the park while the kids play

2. Make Some Plans

With a fairly open schedule, we’re lucky to be free and flexible when it comes to some of these plans. Our first step was to try to secure some dates for family visits. For the rest of the wish list, we’re staying open. The extreme heat doesn’t lend itself well to long days wandering around amusement parks or busy trips to the city, so we’re watching the weather forecast and trying to take advantage of more favorable weather.

3. Focus on the Feels

Sometimes the best way to make the most of your time is to tune in to the way you want to feel. A word that kept coming up in our family meeting was ‘spontaneous’. Another was ‘relaxed’. Here are some others to consider:

easy

budget-friendly

connected

unplugged

creative

fun

adventurous

4. Plan to be Flexible

Above all else, don’t get stressed out about trying to get everything on your list done. It’s easy to get caught up once you set those goals, but remember these are the LAZY days of summer. Don’t beat yourself up if you can’t knock out everything on your list. Carry some of these activities and ideas into the early fall months and use your weekend time. Cooler temperatures might actually make some of these activities more fun.

What’s left on your summer wish list? What are you most looking forward to for August?

A Pep Talk for Creative Types

Hey you artsy soul, trying to make an impression on the world…

a pep talk for creative types

You’ve picked a hell of a path, haven’t you? People think it’s crazy to spend so many waking hours living with your imagination once you’ve hit age eleven or so, but you just can’t help yourself, can you? I’ll bet there are days you think it’s crazy too.

Sure, you have a job that pays the bills. Sometimes you probably even like it. You and I both know there isn’t a single second when you aren’t thinking about your other work. That creative work that doesn’t pay you a dime most of the time, but fills your soul until it’s near to bursting. Except when it doesn’t.

You know those moments where you take a good long look at yourself and say “Seriously, why are you still doing this?” When you stop and count the hours you’ve devoted to your creativity and measure that against the financial dividends of that time investment, do you feel a little sick sometimes? Is there a niggling voice inside your head telling you that it’s time to ‘grow up’? Is that voice telling you that your art isn’t going anywhere?

Well, guess what? I feel the exact same way. Especially right now as I’m typing this. My nay-saying inner monologue is practically screaming, but I know with certainty that as sure as I will not make a cent from my writing this month, I will also come back to it again and again. I will write until my dying day, and it’s not because I have some delusion that I’m poised to become the next bestselling novelist, it’s because I have to write. Even if my stories are absurd, even if I never quite master this craft, I know that when I am not writing I am slowly dying inside.

I’ve had a lot of creative pursuits that I’ve left by the wayside. You’ve probably done the same. There are other avenues I’d like to explore (like pottery!) before I leave this life, but writing is in my blood. You know the feeling. Even in your most frustrated moments you can’t walk away from something that is so much a part of you.

And you shouldn’t.

If your art does nothing more than feed your soul and give you a reason to keep moving through your days, that is a gift worth more than any pay check. If your art helps you contextualize the insanity of the world and seek out the beauty in any situation, you are armed with a power few possess. Build your life carefully around your gifts so you can support your creative space and keep enjoying those personal rewards. I have total faith that if you invest so deeply and create from a place of personal pleasure and power you will make exactly the kind of mark you hope to leave on the world. You probably already have.

xoxo

cat skinner

 

 

The World Isn’t Hard for Beautiful People

I have a weekly date on Periscope with my brother.

We are live every Wednesday at 9 pm, EST and we answer dating, relationship and sex ed questions. I happen to think it’s a lot of fun, and I’ve been honored to speak to a lot of really interesting personal matters via this format. We get most of our questions via Ask.fm because it’s easy to post anonymously there. Last night, I woke up to this question, which isn’t in fact a question at all,  and I knew it was going to end up becoming a blog post:

When I encounter women such as yourself, who are beautiful and appear to have it all together, I go deaf. It’s difficult to hear you because I assume you have no idea how hard this world is as a less than beautiful person. I know I am kind and smart, yadda yadda. Beauty is skin deep. I am sexist!

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Great Porn For Women

Dear Cat,

As a predominately (mostly? bi-and-large?) hetero, entirely feminist woman, I sometimes find it hard to find porn that appeals to me. I get turned on by watching women and men both, in pretty much any combination. My challenge is that most porn features women and men whose bodies I don’t find real enough to be attractive – by which I mean, they are overly produced, hairless, and not soft and sexy and beautifully flawed like the humans I know and love. I find that I love burlesque photos, black-and-white shots, and photos that are artistic, highly suggestive or even explicit, as long as they look believable. Photos that give you the feeling of consensual voyeurism. A few years ago, you mentioned a video porn site on your blog that I really loved that featured real women having real orgasms. I’m looking for more suggestions of great erotica, featuring gorgeous, real, fucking hot people. Pretty much a Les Coquettes show, but in pictures…with more sex. How do I find great porn for women?

Got any ideas?

Thanks!

B

great porn for women

Photo by www.kyleandrew.com

Dear B,

If that isn’t the best kind of gauntlet throw down, I don’t know what is! I was so excited to get your note, I went into overload trying to find the very best answers, because I know that this post is going to make A LOT of women happy.

My first move was to turn to one of my very sexy friends,  Sex Educator and artist Sonya JF Barnett. Sonya has incredible taste, and she’s deeply invested in creating sex-positive, pro female erotic art. In 2013 won the Golden Beaver (best Canadian content) at the Feminist Porn Awards for her premiere erotic video ‘Because I Want You to Watch’, and in 2015 she won the Best Erotic Short award for Pachisi. You can check out her ridiculously sexy work here.

Sonya immediately recommended Cindy Gallop’s “Make Love Not Porn” . This is a fascinating web-based profit-share where real people create and share real porn. They don’t like to call themselves amateurs, because of the implication that the only people who can create sexy porn are the pros. I particularly enjoyed Cindy’s amusing and accurate look at the ‘Porn World vs. Real World’. When your kids discover porn, and are old enough to contextualize sex in more explicit terms, this will be highly illuminating and informative for them. As Cindy says in her Ted Talk (see video below) about the influence of hardcore porn on contemporary sexuality, “Sex is the area of human experience that embraces the vastest possible range of proclivities.” The important task of being true to our own desires and needs lies with us.

B, the website featuring real female orgasm that you reference in your note is the delightful I Feel Myself. It’s a members-only site, but well worth the fee if that’s what makes you warm and tingly.

To make sure I’ve thoroughly satisfied you, I also wanted to share the information below which I first published on my sex education blog.

I like porn. The more deeply I delve into the world of adult video, the more I like the genre. It’s hard to believe that once-upon-a-time I used to be intimidated by the idea of watching x-rated movies. I think I believed that porn was only for guys, that I would feel inadequate if I watched surgically enhanced women getting it on, and that porn was degrading to women. This is true in some cases, but like all things wonderful about the Internet, with enough digging, there’s something out there for everyone. Even you, my horny sisters.

Here are some things to consider when delving into porn for the first time:

Fly Solo
Plan to be all alone the first few times you watch porn. Whether it’s free stuff you find on the Internet or a video that you’ve rented, watching solo takes any pressure off, and frees you up to explore what makes you feel good.

Bring a Toy
If you find something particularly arousing, run with it! Note which scenarios and sex acts make you the happiest. Also note the directors or performers involved in your favorite scenes.

Keep the Other Hand on the Remote
Fast forward through the boring parts. This is part of the joy of watching porn. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a feature-length adult movie from start to finish.

Visit Your Favorite Pro-Women Sex Shop
These stores are staffed with awesome people who will make you totally comfortable in asking questions. They often have a rental section, and will gladly make recommendations. Save yourself from the experience of a trashy, alienating sex shop geared towards men. There are also lots of online resources for sex-positive porn from a female perspective.

Female Directors
The face of porn is changing as smart, savvy women are stepping up to the director’s chair. Feminist porn describes x-rated movies told from a woman’s perspective, and includes real female fantasies and POV (point-of-view) shots from the female angle. Some kick-ass female directors include:

Candida Royalle, Tristan Taormino, Anna Span, Madison Young and Erika Lust

Check out this great website, Porn Movies for Women, for more recommendations.

Educational
While you’re sure to be inspired by some of the scenarios you’ll see in porn, sexual education videos can also be incredibly hot. Add some of these to your DVD library, and plan a study date solo or with a buddy.

Costume Epics
If you think that dress-up might be your thing, look for costume epics and historical dramas within the porn genre.

Plot-Driven
It’s hard to believe, but there are porn films out there that actually have decent story lines. Look for films by Candida Royale, Paul Thomas, and Veronica Hart who are all known for their story-telling abilities.

Natural Bodies
If you don’t get off on the artificial fantasy body of many main-stream porn stars, there are lots of actresses out these still kicking it au-natural. Some mainstream porn recommendations include Belladonna and Tori Black. True lesbian porn almost always features natural women. Also, good old-fashioned 70’s porn features natural bodies, including lots of bush. Consider yourself warned.

Amateurs
Check out the realm of porn created with no budget and a handy-cam by earnest, hard-working average Joes and Janes. Charming, and sometimes quite sexy.

Lesbian or Bi-curious
Curious about the wonderful world of girl-on-girl? Lesbian films, produced by lesbian artists depict realistic lesbian sex. Or, treat yourself to the high-gloss, ultra stylized world of male fantasy lesbian hardcore. Some days it’s hard to decide which is better.

Hot Men
Up until recently, men in porn have more or less served as super-sized units attached to ugly people. With women in the driver’s seat, porn actors are getting yummier and yummier. Actors Manuel Ferrara, Jean Val Jean and Mr. Marcus are popular favorites. Director Anna Span is notorious for treating her viewers to hot guys. There’s also the option of kicking back to enjoy some gay porn. Those boys rarely disappoint when it comes to pretty faces.

Porn for Couples
This is an actual sub-genre of the porn industry. You can search for this on the Internet, and lots of delicious choices will appear. Couples’ porn has something for each person to enjoy, and often depicts real fantasies shared by people in monogamous relationships.

High Art
For a highly stylized treat that looks like the pages of a fashion magazine has sprung to life and started a hump-fest, check out the work of director Andrew Blake. Another noteworthy contemporary is Michael Ninn.

Kinky
Challenge your comfort zone and expand your horizons by experiencing kinky sex from the safe distance of your sofa. BDSM (an acronym that represents the idea of  bondage, discipline, domination, and sado-masochism) and fetishistic sex come alive in ways you can scarcely imagine in the world of porn.

Free Porn
It boggles the mind to think of how much porn is available for free on the Internet. Now that you have some tips on what to look for, set aside several hours (no joke, you won’t be able to stop yourself) and check out the endless selection available at the following unbelievably comprehensive one-stop shop. Thanks Porn Dude for all of the time you’ve invested in making sure the masses can get off. WARNING: MANY OF THESE FEATURED SITES MOSTLY FEATURE MAINSTREAM PORN, NOT USUALLY FROM A FEMINIST PERSPECTIVE

http://theporndude.com/

Let Someone Else do the Work
For the Girls is a subscription-based website that features naughty photos, video, and stories chosen for women by women. A trial membership could be a fun way to introduce yourself to the world of adult entertainment.

Read All About It
There are some great books devoted to the topic of women and porn. If you’d like to arm yourself with as much info as possible before diving in, check out these great titles:

Good Porn: A Woman’s Guide

The Smart Girl’s Guide to Porn

Do my readers have any steadfast sources of great feminist porn? Share here so we can all enjoy!

Kisses on your nose,

cat skinner

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