Wednesday, 27 May 2020

What didn't work today?

Discover what mental models are working for you. This woman also might feel sexier if she had a free hour away from her kids, when she'd have a chance to take a relaxing bath, read a article, talk to a friend, or maybe just take a nap. Perhaps her sex drive would be reawakened if she and her husband did the dishes together, using that quiet after-dinner time to reconnect, chat about their day, and remember why they once loved each other enough to get married. Maybe if her husband did the dishes for her, she would find herself really turned on! Because we're all multitasking so much these days, it's often hard to be present, paying attention to one another and to ourselves. Perhaps if she and her husband just slowed down and remembered how important it is to be in the moment, that might go a long way toward reawakening their intimacy and, ultimately, improving their sexual experience. Or perhaps she and her partner would benefit from learning to communicate differently about sex, so that she could ask for what she wants without embarrassment and he could better understand how to please her without anxiety. Another key factor in sexual interest has to do with how long you and your partner have been together. A great deal of scientific research shows that when a couple first falls in love, they may experience up to 18 months of intense excitement, including sexual excitement. Then, if the couple stays together, the sexual heat mellows and deepens into a more profound feeling of love. If the couple wants to recapture some of the old thrill, they need to find new ways to excite themselves and each other. One woman flew over the cemetery and then to heaven to see a child who had died. When people finished responding, Iega held the silence in the room for a moment, honoring the breadth of emotions, balancing the lightness of the joy with the weight of sorrow and loss. This powerful experience was in the first three weeks of the three-year project. We knew we were going to train the staff. We knew we were focusing on the Peter Pan story, and gradually building a play at three of the twelve homes. While we did not know what that play would be yet, clearly we would be doing this exercise again. And again and again. Over the next couple of months, the staff completed TimeSlips's online training and the artists in residence visited their sites. They modeled a whole range of creative engagement techniques and started exploring the story with staff and elders.

In eastern Kentucky, Bob Martin led story workshops. Use those more. A great way to start your mental model change is to exercise. Not only will it help your body but, it will also improve your mind. When our bodies are in motion, we are releasing stress from our brain and our body. Our mood is better. We can begin to think clearly. Exercise does so much for the mind and body. Eating healthy foods can also boost brainpower. Our body needs fuel to function properly right along with our brain. Not just food like fast food, or junk food but, real food like veggies, fruits, whole grains, lean meats. Sometimes we do need to tweak a woman's hormone levels, and when a woman tells me about her low sex drive, I make sure to run tests on thyroid and sex hormones, as well as doing other comprehensive blood work to ensure that other abnormalities are not present. But a woman's libido is not just the product of biology. Her self-esteem, her hopes and dreams, her creativity, her relationship with her partner--all of these play an important role in her sexual feelings, as do her sense of religion and morality, her ideas about what a good woman should be like, and her connection to her sensuality. I am often struck by our culture's split personality when it comes to sex and sexuality, particularly for women. On the one hand, we have so many puritanical attitudes, which can make it difficult to enjoy sex or revel in our sensuality. On the other hand, we are bombarded by sexualized images that sometimes border on pornography, images that sometimes make it seem as though sex is everywhere. Isn't it interesting that, seemingly out of nowhere, the erotic novel Fifty Shades of Grey suddenly became such a big hit? Despite our publicly puritanical culture, there sure seems to be a lot of interest in sex and sensuality going on behind the scenes! In such an environment, figuring out your own personal version of sexuality and sensuality can be challenging, to say the least.

Is there a lusty, wanton, sexy woman inside you? In the four homes clustered around Bowling Green, visual artist Andee Rudloff invited the elders to create models of their homes and paint murals together. Closer to Louisville, musician Cheyenne Mize gathered and practiced favorite childhood songs with the elders at Hodgenville's Sunrise Manor. Sunrise Manor is an impressive place. It is new construction with two stories, multiple courtyards, loads of natural light, and wide hallways that curve into clusters of rooms rather than the more institutional double-loaded corridor model. When we hit Sunrise Manor, we made our way down to the main dining room where Cheyenne was waiting for us. When we turned the corner, I was floored. There were nearly seventy people gathered in a huge circle: elders from Sunrise and some who had traveled with the lead staff from the other three nursing homes in the region. They waved and cheered as we walked in. Cheyenne was at the noon spot in the circle with her guitar strapped on and standing next to a flip chart. She was ready for us. If we eat more of the good stuff and limit the not so good stuff, we will feel and function so much better. How we think about ourselves and how we talk to ourselves on a daily is very important. When talking to yourself, stop, and think about how nice or mean you are talking. Think about it as if you were talking to your best friend. Some of the things we say to ourselves we would never say to a friend. We are our worst critics. Talking about ourselves is just as important. What we say to others is really what we think of ourselves. Julie tells her co-workers the story of how she locked herself out of her apartment building a proceeded to say how stupid she was.

Was she foolish, or did she just make a mistake? Or perhaps a demure, flirtatious, playful woman who enjoys her sexuality to the utmost? Do you have within you a sensuous woman whose way of dressing and walking makes clear how much pleasure she takes in her body? Getting in touch with these parts of yourself can open you to a whole new world. Humans are the only species for which sexual desire and functioning are not necessarily linked to reproduction. Every other mammal has sex only when the female is in heat, and can reproduce as a result. Only we have sex just for fun--or to express love. We're the only species with a female orgasm not linked to reproduction. In fact, we're the only species in which females can have multiple orgasms! We're also the only species that continues to have sex long after reproduction is no longer possible. Did you know that the incidence of sexually transmitted diseases in nursing homes is equal to that among teenagers? Over in the corner, just outside of the circle, I spotted the folks from the Office of the Inspector General of the State of Kentucky's Department of Health Services. They were our funders--and overseers. They were the ones who held Angie's and my hands through the twenty-seven versions of the proposal--through the conceptual jujitsu of organizing a project to bring an iterative, creative process into one of the most regulated industries in the United States, nursing homes. What will the play be? these folks asked during the proposal process. That's up to the elders, we explained. What supplies do you need and how much will they cost? We won't know until we know the story of the play, we explained. These are two very different ways of thinking--two different ways of being.

But if this approach was to be replicable, if it was to spread to nursing homes across the country, we would need the support of people such as these agency staff. Think of yourself as your best friend and act accordingly. Setting Goals and Achieving What You Want It is essential to set goals. Goals help you keep going in the right direction. They actually give you direction. She sets down and decides what needs to be done to achieve that goal. Then she takes little steps daily that will get her to this goal. She needs to get good grades in high school to get into the college she wants. Each small goal will get her to the bigger ultimate goal. Set goals and then set small goals. In fact, having sex in their 60s, 70s, and 80s is more enjoyable for many people, including women who no longer have to worry about becoming pregnant, who are no longer taking care of children at home, and who have perhaps finally come into their personal and professional power. At this age, I no longer care what people think about me, one of my patients told me recently. It's taken me an entire lifetime to get here--but I am certainly enjoying it now! That sense of It's my life, and I'll live it as I please also created for her a new sexual freedom, as well as a sense of being in her body rather than wondering what her body looked like to someone else. Feeling free and empowered and in touch with her body, this woman got into a new relationship in which she was able for the first time in her life to tell her partner what she wanted and to ask him what he wanted. I wish I'd known this earlier, but I sure am enjoying it now. I find her attitude inspiring for all of us, at any age. Self-knowledge, empowerment, and a strong connection to our own bodies are the keys to sexuality and sensuality--along with hormonal balance. In most cases, if you're not enjoying sex as much as you'd like, your hormonal issues can be addressed by following my 28-day plan, in some cases complemented by bioidentical hormones.

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