What to do with guilt and fragility.

A beginners guide

By Erin Brown

Guilt can be an unfortunate although natural reaction to learning about one’s own privilege. It's not very actionable or useful, but it seems an understandable part of discovering for the first time, or again a new layer of the systemic power structures that you benefit from. If you’ve not been forced to face these things before, this can feel overwhelming. Privilege lends itself to a serious lack of identity development in that area. The very privilege that allowed you to not confront systemic abuse also created a version of you that has very little tolerance for learning about it, which is called fragility. 


I've seen suggested that the best thing to do with these feelings is to deny them. Push them down somewhere you put ugly feelings you don't enjoy. But to me, this messaging plays right into the conditioning I've been handed about every other difficult feeling. I don't actually believe you can ignore what comes up. I don't believe you can tuck away unpleasantness and not suffer physically. But, what you do with these feelings does matter. Who you share them with, what space they take up, when they are prioritized and by whom: that's worth addressing.  



1) Keep in mind your feelings aren't the point. If you are a white person reading about police brutality, for example, and feeling helpless and guilty, do not add those feelings to the commentary on the piece. Your feelings of helplessness reading an article on a subject are not equitable to the person experiencing terror. Just reading your position is emotional labor, and possibly derailing of the entire conversation. It’s asking for your feelings to be centered in a place they do not belong. The more entitled you have felt in the past to insert yourself everywhere, the harder this will be to grasp. So ask yourself before you add your two cents somewhere: Do my feelings need to be centered here? If not, don't insert yourself.  


2) Sit with the discomfort. It’s actually pretty whack to be raised and systemically miseducated in such a way that learning accurate history and how present systems uphold the same abuses creates such discomfort. But that is the reality. So in order to be actively anti-oppression, we have to build up a thicker skin. The discomfort gets easier if you allow for it. It comes and goes quicker. You begin to feel less fragile and less thrown off. You'll be stronger. But as you sit in the discomfort of new information or guilt about it, make sure your feelings are directed toward your own miseducation and not the person providing you with accurate information.  


3) If it's not about you, it's not about you. Cultural critiques are not personal character attacks. It's ridiculous to request 13,987 prefixes be written to everything a person writes just to avoid someone taking it personally. "Not all men, not all white women, not all straight people" etc., are not necessary additions to pieces examining the conditioned problematic behaviors of a group. If it's not about you (i.e., you don't exhibit the behaviors being discussed) then it's not about you. No need to make sure the writer knows you believe yourself to be an exception.  



Some days I feel a little fragile when reading another article about white women ruining feminism. I take a deep breath, remind myself I'm fully capable of receiving critique (and I'd better be if I mean to be a leader in any way) and go back to read again. It is always better to actively stand against poor behavior in those with whom you identify than to ask that they not be criticized.  


Take what you can from the piece, share it if you believe it's valuable for people in your life, and move on without centering yourself.  


4) Process with appropriate people. If you need to process feelings of guilt, overwhelm or moments of fragility, talk to other people who share your positionality and have the energy for it. Sometimes dealing with emotions requires external processing — just don't take it to an inappropriate party. I've heard this explained like a funeral. If your coworker passes away and you need to process your grief, you don't call the widow. Be mindful of the position you are putting someone in when asking to work through this with you and make sure you are doing so with someone who has the emotional energy to do so. 


It takes time and emotional energy to become less fragile around issues where you experience privilege and lack accurate information. Make room for your own thoughts and process your feelings, but be sure to do so in spaces that are appropriate. It is possible to give yourself room as your lens expands while not centering your experience where it doesn't belong.


Erin Brown

is an author, international speaker, and poet from Lawrence, Kansas. Her work focuses on women and autonomy. It includes themes of positive body image, eradicating rape culture, addressing white feminism, honoring the power of our voices, self-care over martyrdom, reproductive justice, intersectional thinking and inclusive leadership. With an activism history approaching two decades, the only thing she is sure of is how much more she has to learn.

Are we bad at sex? The ridiculous pitfalls of the "murky consent" discussion.

Choosing to tackle the culture that allows for this abuse to continue instead of the most recent symptoms of it. With great reverence for the survivors currently under fire and all of those silently bearing witness to their own pain. Content warning: sexual assault.

By Erin Brown

Everytime another sexual assault comes to the forefront of the newsfeeds, along with it you can expect the same storylines handed to the accused and the accuser. It’s painful as it tugs at so many people’s darkest hours, the ones they were taught to shove down somewhere to avoid this exact thing they are watching flicker across their screens. This is what could have become of me if I spoke up.

It pokes at the kind of pain points you can’t wish away or shove somewhere. There are so many daily ways they come straight to the surface. And we have questions. Questions like: How do we know she didn’t really want it? How do we know she isn’t seeking attention or simply changed her mind? What was she wearing? Did she look available for sex? We are so very much confused about consent. We want it to be a contractual obligation. Where a notary public is involved and we can see so clearly that someone was “allowed” to have sex with someone else.

But doesn’t that sound like a terrible transaction? Because everytime I read (yet another) account of a rape where onlookers stand around supposing with one another as to whether or not there was really a crime- I read it with the lens of someone who really understands sex as a pleasurable thing. And I see, so clearly, that there was no “yes.”

We see this kind of sex normalized in media all the time, too. Probably because it’s normal. One person on her back, looking away, thinking of something else. Another pounding away on top of her. Where, in the context of the story, consent is present. But the people involved are not involved with one another. We don’t see as much of the big “yeses.” The eye contact. The intimacy even in just really fucking someone like you mean it.

We don’t see the moans, the heads thrown back, the actual euphoria of riding out an orgasm. Of answering to the question, “again?” readily and without hesitation.

As someone who has been doing work to eradicate what we call “rape culture” (a culture wherein sexual assault is not just a normal occurrence, but without consequence to the rapist and much consequence to those abused) for a couple of decades, It is the likes of me who folks are pointing at with “feminist killjoy” memes. I even have a hat with the phrase knitted on it. When ironically, what I’m advocating for is pleasure. And I’ve very little moral attachment to what that looks like between two consenting parties.

The entire argument of consent as a murky subject is turned completely on its head when sex is not viewed as a conquest but a mutual pursuit of pleasure. But that involves a level of respect, concern on impact and a concerted effort not just to get off or to perform but to actively seek the satisfaction of ones lover. To notice how they move when you touch them, what their face does, what each kind of moan means… when we are in this place there is no question as to who is consenting because it’s all so clear. Not in the way that sometimes people’s bodies begin to respond favorably to unwanted sexual touch, but a from the beginning, through the middle, all the way to that question lingering in the air “again?” YES. Yes all the way through.

If we aren’t seeking that, then can we at the very least begin to look at this aspect of our culture’s approach to sex? Are we bad at sex? So bad at seeking to fulfill the desire of our chosen sexual partners that when someone is so detached from their bodies that they will be in therapy about this moment for decades, we don’t even notice. Because it feels markedly similar to the last time one person laid on her back and the other person pounded away at them. Because the approach is not only heteronormative, it paints sex as something akin to a round of golf. But this one with less holes and significantly less thoughtfulness as to how to get to them.


Ongoing consent between actively engaged partners is not necessarily a constant check in as to “Are you OK?” But rather a thermometer for pleasure. “Do you like it like that?” “Will you do this for me?” A response is less an indication of safety but of turning the dial. “Slower.” “Faster.” “Right there, just like that.” “Just. Like. That.”

No one saying “just like that” emphatically with her eyes locked on her partner is feeling that consent is a murky subject. Because she is arriving at her pleasure with a partner who has concerned themselves with how she feels. So much so that they were willing to communicate clearly, trust her to know her body better than anyone, and study the ways in which to play her like an instrument. And she is given the space to do the same. Lovers plucking on one another’s strings in ways that make you moan involuntarily when you recall it the next day.

I don’t think I’m a killjoy. I know it not to be the case in the moments when I sip my morning coffee and my cunny hums in the memory of the night before. I’m fully aware of my yes. The frigid killjoy narrative is another way to discount the multitudes we contain and why we might be angry. In this case, specifically, as to how we are touched and if we decided or were even asked to begin with.

So I don’t know what to do with the assholes. The people we know sought out to cause someone great harm in a violent way and did it (or continue to do it) with rape. It is damaging and terrible and takes away a sense of safety in ones body specifically around one of it’s most pleasurable opportunities. But with 90-93% of rapists being men, it can’t just be these jerks we think might fit the bill. It’s all these men we know, too. The good guys.

As I watch them defend themselves, I’ve begun considering the possibility that some of them truly didn’t know the difference. That while they very much inflicted painful trauma on to another person, they honestly didn’t know any different than thoughtlessly seeking a means to an end. Their eruption. Their conquest. Their bragging rights. Their rocks off. And because they at no point concerned themselves with the wellbeing, the emotional welfare, the body signals, the voice or the basic pleasure of the person they were hammering at- they didn’t notice they were raping them. Someone who was not going to hum about it the next day. Someone who now bears the weight of not being seen or heard or cared about in such an intimate way. And as I stare at that sentence rereading it, I wonder how long I can find new ways to ask for basic respect before we are clear that these are all crimes. Coming in at different costs, to different identities, weighing down the bootstraps we keep trying to pull ourselves along by. I don’t know how much lower the bar can be for decency. But I’m beginning to see the ways we don’t understand sex.

To anyone having the kind of sex where one party does whatever version of “aimlessly pound” that pertains to your sex life while the other stares into the distance, I wish for you a more juicy experience. One so clear, so vibrant, so delicious that consent is an embodiment you can possess. And at least one more person can see clearly. A hell yes is not only worth the pursuit, it’s the whole thing. Anything less respects nothing but ejaculate, at any cost. And doesn’t begin to show a basic appreciation for the pleasure capacity for anyone involved.


But the most useful thing I can share with anyone choosing to spend their time looky-looing at someone else’s lived trauma, for clues as to if the circumstances were a little “murky.” If she was wrong about her experience. Is that the quickest route to avoiding trauma or consequence for it (which side you concern yourself with here is very telling and obvious, by the way), is to approach sex as an act to be shared with someone who truly wants to share it with you. Emphatically. To seek to provide pleasure to the person you are with and allow for it in return. An exchange so palpable, you buzz afterward, the lingering effects of hormones and blissful orgasm. Raise the bar that high, or no deal. You either care about how you affect others or you don’t. You either view others as holes or as beings also worthy and deserving of their sexual pleasure and delight. You either seek to play lovers like instruments, to the tune of the songs they most enjoy… or you seek to lazily get your rocks off. If you are the latter you might be causing more harm than you think. Time’s up.

*The gendered nature of this language reflects the statistical significance of who is most commonly affected by these narratives but is in no way meant to minimize damage caused by womxn or any other identity of abuser. All of these stories matter.


Erin Brown

is an author, international speaker, and poet from Lawrence, Kansas. Her work focuses on women and autonomy. It includes themes of positive body image, eradicating rape culture, addressing white feminism, honoring the power of our voices, self-care over martyrdom, reproductive justice, intersectional thinking and inclusive leadership. With an activism history approaching two decades, the only thing she is sure of is how much more she has to learn.

Develop An Indomitable Mindset

Athletes and experts weigh in with their best strategies for overcoming performance-mindset issues by boosting your mental game. 

By Jennifer Vogelgesang Blake

Jen K. was worried.  

 With three powerlifting meets under her belt and her fourth one month away, she found herself facing an unexpected challenge not in her body, but her mind. She was approaching training weights she had never lifted and while her training cycle had gone off thus far without a hitch, fear and doubt began to creep in anyway.  

 “I’ve hit a mental wall, so to speak, with my performance,” she shared after a particularly frustrating training session. “My brain simply cannot grasp that I will ever lift past a certain weight in my squat, bench, and deadlift.”  

 Whether you’re a veteran competitor, a fresh face, or anywhere in-between, the benchmarks to success are generally the same: show up, do the work, and repeat. Our bodies, however, do not function independently of our brains and no matter how consistent you've been in prep, sometimes our minds can attempt to get the best of us.  

And if the big day comes and you believe you can’t — or don’t believe you can — you very likely won’t achieve your goals.  

Mind Over Matter, A Negotiation

 American record-holding Olympic weightlifter Quiana Welch is familiar with the influence her mind has on her performance. As life-long athlete in gymnastics, volleyball, football, and CrossFit, she can easily relate to feelings of self-doubt the closer she comes to competition day.  

 “I definitely think to myself, ‘Oh snap, Q. Are you ready for this? The meet is so close! You gotta get it together.’” 

 And she’s not alone. “The most common performance barrier I encounter with my athletes all boil down to the same thing: confidence and self-doubt,” says Dr. Peter Olusoga, athlete, coach, and sport Psychology Lecturer and consultant at Sheffield Hallam University in the United Kingdom. “Any athlete who tells you they never experience a negative thought, or a little anxiety and self-doubt, is bluffing.”  

 Exactly how these negative thoughts show up for competitors vary. “Some athletes think they are going to fail because they are fearful or lack confidence,” states Heather Pearson, strength and conditioning coach, sports psychologist, and founder of 1Body4Life. “Some athletes think they lack the ability to keep calm under pressure, and some hit a mental block whereby their mind believes they cannot run any further, return from injury with their original capability, or lift any more weight on a lift.”  

Training for competition isn't easy and in theory, an optimal level of arousal will lead to improvements in your performance; As your arousal increases so does your performance — but only up to a point. Negative perceptions left unchecked early in training can result in a drop in arousal and increase in anxiety and fear. This can lead to performance plateaus, failed attempts, or worse, quitting.  

The good news? A mental sticking point during the lead-up to a competition (or a daunting task at work or a new job interview), can be overcome with the right tools. With practice, you can flip the script and change your mindset to help influence a positive outcome.  

“Mindset is all about perception,” says Heather, and our perceptions can change with helpful mindset boosting practices. “You can train your brain for anything,” she says.  

Photo cred: Bodybuilding.com

Photo cred: Bodybuilding.com

Robust in Body, and Mind

 “When I first started powerlifting, my performance anxiety was hugely defeating. In my very first meets, I would lift less than what I could lift in the gym because I was so nervous, I would feel tremendously drained.” – American record-holding powerlifter, Jennifer Thompson 

No one competes without the expectation and desire to do well. It’s easy to get hooked into perceptions that influence how we perform, and when negative thoughts creep in, tempting to ignore them in favor of pushing through and appearing as if all is fine. The issue arises when we give too much credence to thoughts we perceive as negative and start — and keep — listening to them as if they’re true.  

 And very likely, “They're not,” Dr. Olusoga asserts. “They're just thoughts, and helping athletes unhook themselves from negative thoughts is often a starting point for addressing performance issues.” 

 Feeling stuck in a negative mental feedback loop? Decrease performance anxiety and build a more resilient mindset with these specific strategies from sports psychlogist Heather Pearson:  

4-7-8 Breathing

“I take nice deep breaths to keep me calm. Freaking out never helps.” Quiana Welch 

 Twice a day, close your mouth, inhale through your nose for four seconds, and hold your breath for seven seconds. Exhale through your mouth for eight seconds making a whooshing sound. Repeat 4 times for a total of 90 seconds.  

This breathing technique allows more oxygen to enter your body, promoting a state of calmness and balance. Implement this breathing practice pre-training session or pre-competition, particularly the night before a big competition to help you sleep.  

Word Association

Word association is simply associating a word with things that make you feel happy, calm, serene and peaceful.  

To practice, sit in a quiet room, close your eyes, and think of a word you want to use. Then, think about everything that makes you happy, peaceful, joyful and loving while thinking of this word.  

Word association requires diligent practice— and a timer — during training to reap positive effects at competition. “You need to practice this daily for five minutes so when you think of this word you instantly feel calm and at peace,” says Heather.  

Positive Self-Talk and Thought Stoppage

 “When negative thoughts creep into my head I picture a filing cabinet in my head. I put those thoughts into a drawer and close it shut.” – Jennifer Thompson 

 Positive self-talk is straightforward: speak to yourself in affirmations, the same way you would to a colleague or teammate who needs more confidence. In your head or out loud repeat, “I am strong, I can do one more rep,” “I just need to focus and I can do this, come on, power through.”  

 Thought stoppage is slightly different to positive self-talk. When you have a negative thought, instantly change it for a positive one. For example you might think, “I’m am so weak today” but you stop, recognize the negative thought, and change it to “I am going to lift this weight today.”  

“Both of these techniques promote a positive physiological response in the mind and the body,” Heather says.  

Photo cred: SBD Apparel

Photo cred: SBD Apparel

Imagery and Visualization

From speeding the rehab process post-injury, blasting through training plateaus, gaining confidence against competitors, and attaining more effort in lifting heavier weight, imagery and visualization is a powerful and authoritative tool. 

 “I always visualize how I want my performance to go. I walk myself through every step and imagine how it is going to feel. I walk my mind through my opener all the way to the third attempt in each lift. I imagine how the weight will feel, and that I will be fast and strong.” – Jen Thompson 

 Your brain works on a sensory basis and the more senses you use, the stronger an imprint you can create of exactly what you desire to achieve.  

 To practice using imagery, find a quiet room, close your eyes and use all your senses to create an experience. Take a back squat for example, feel, hear, and see your body go through all the motions from start to finish. Smell the gym. Feel the knurling on the bar as you wrap your hands around it. Hear the clangs of the plates as you position the weight on your back and step away from the rack. Listen to the deep inhale of your breath and feel the bracing in your core as you descend. Feel your quads and back tense as you push your way upward.  

 Finish the visualization by feeling the emotions, like happiness and elation, as you complete your task (or in this case, lift).  

 Imagery works best in real time to mimic the exact situation correctly, so during training, practice before you begin lifting and in between sets. For powerlifters on competition day, practice as soon as you arrive at the venue and scoped out the lifting area, before you begin to warm-up, and between your attempts. Your brain relies on repetition, and visualizing a specific situation in real time establishes these thoughts as a predictor of the outcome, leading to huge gains in confidence, strength, motivation, and recovery. 

The Final Word

 Many of the most successful athletes in the world use mental training as part of their daily regimen, and for good reason: they work. But you don't have to be an elite athlete to reap the benefits of these simple — and free! —techniques to maximize your performance. Mental toughness may often be held up as the ideal but, "Sometimes when athletes experience what is perfectly natural, like thoughts they consider negative about their performance, they might not want to admit having these thoughts, and might see them as a sign of being mentally weak, which might actually exacerbate the problem," says Dr. Olugosa.  

 "Being flexible [in our approach] is perhaps more important than being strong, when we talk about the mental aspects of sport." 

IMG_6982 copy.jpg


Jennifer Vogelgesang Blake is a USAPL-certified Club Coach, RKC2 kettlebell trainer, and mat Pilates fan, and is driven to invite as many as interested to discover how fun strong can be through a variety of entry points. Her clients range from her home base at The Movement Minneapolis gym to all over the globe via her online crew through Unapologetically Strong Coaching. When she’s not training herself or clients, you can find her with her nose in a book, or snacking and asking, “Are you going to finish that?” Photo cred: Martin Rittenberry

Pussy Consciousness: An Interview With Kalah Hill

Pussy Consciousness is a concept and course taught by founder and doula Kalah Hill. In this interview, Hill and interviewer Jen Sinkler discuss its background, depth, ideology, and the women behind it.

*Founders' note: We affirm that all experiences of womanhood and personhood are valuable. We understand that "pussy" is both not essential to womanhood and is defined differently by different individuals regardless of anatomy. 


Jen Sinkler:

That’s a perfect segue, and I’ve hit record, if that’s all right. I won't use anything you've said up to this point, unless...it’s up to you.

Kalah Hill:
You can use whatever you want.

Jen Sinkler:
Aggressive transparency, I love it.

Kalah Hill:
Yeah, serious. This is the real deal right now, Jenny. I have no other direction than straight-up integrity and authenticity and just opening myself up to the complete unknown.

Jen Sinkler:
I really feel so happy. It’s like what you said earlier, you’re having a great time in your shit, right?

Kalah Hill:
Oh, totally. I’m the happiest I’ve ever been, the happiest I’ve ever been in my life.


Kalah Hill:
Pussy is both an anatomy and a nonanatomical space. For me it is a physical place of origin where all humans come from. Knowing our place of origin is important. Pussy is also a form of expansive consciousness. When we honor our lineage and where we come from, we can clearly know where we want to go. Making conscious choices that are deliberate and in reverence to that which allowed us to become embodied in the first place is important to distinguish.

While some of us hold the physical anatomy, we all hold within our constitutions the space of conception. Whether that’s actual conception or the conception of a new idea or way of being doesn’t matter. We all have access to pussy as it’s our original home.


Kalah Hill:
Femininity, to me, is an expression or experience of an energetic feminine source. The qualities of feminine energy include, creativity, spontaneity, playfulness, freedom, orgasmic, natural, fluid, restful, soft, fierce, nurturer, ecstatic, multifaceted, cyclical, nonlinear, and sublime.

The feminine is the source of inspired action. In our unique expressions of femininity, we can find clarity of action and bring forth that which we want to create in this world. Femininity sets the tone at which our masculine energies are inspired to take linear action. The two need each other in order to self-actualize.

We must start with the feminine so that our actions are in service to creation. Femininity holds a large capacity to encompass the whole of our experience. With this we live, we love, we hurt, we die. Paradox is the reality of the feminine. It’s in these contrasts that our feminine can shine.

The beauty of feminine experience is one that is bittersweet. The feminine revels in all the flavors, smells, and tastes. She inspires books, art, wars, debates, gold medals, and most of all, love. Live a life in service to your feminine and you’ll be free.


Jen Sinkler:

When you say pussy consciousness, what do you mean, and what might that look like?

Kalah Hill:
Pussy consciousness is this level of consciousness that embraces that truth, and honors it, and respects it, and celebrates it, and takes pleasure in it, and simultaneously and paradoxically, takes grief in it, takes sorrow, takes sadness, takes pain, and all of the evils and the violence of the world, as well, because those are truths, too, and really, life doesn't leave anything behind. Life is governed by nature, and so we don’t have any control over the laws of nature.

And for me, it’s a level of consciousness where I allow myself to fully embrace those laws of nature, to not try to control them anymore, so that I can actually live, so I can actually let my life speak through me and my life come through me on purpose, always because it always is, always has been.

Somehow, life spoke through us and we became human without any sense of control, without any sense of conditioning, or programming, or understanding of who we were as individuals. It just happened, and that’s what life does, and pussy holds that. It’s one of our greatest access points to that level of consciousness.

Jen Sinkler:
During the course, I recall you talking about a deeper level of consciousness. You didn't say higher. You said deeper.

Kalah Hill:
Deeper, yes. Yes, deeper. So something that’s really common in the personal development, kind of new age-y spiritual world is getting high. Getting high is awesome. LSD was super good for a lot of reasons and helped I think a lot of people get into this level of enlightenment and this understanding of letting go of the mind and the identifications that we have around it, and I think it’s good to traverse the atmosphere and the clouds. I mean, even on a political level we’ve put a lot of money into NASA, for example.

So we engage with space. We engage with getting high quite well, and it’s acceptable as a culture for us to get really high in all different kind of paradigms. You know, climbing mountaintops. I think of all the different ways getting high is supported, and that’s great and needed because it gives us this really broad viewpoint. It gives us this space of how we’re connected to the whole. It’s very broad and macro. Pussy consciousness is kind of...I don’t want to say the opposite of it, because pussy consciousness encompasses that, as well, because it encompasses paradox, but I’m talking about deep dive.

I’m talking about diving to the core and getting to the fire. What sustains.

It’s this experience of going into the deep and maybe not returning. I think about diagnoses such as depression or hysteria. Our culture doesn't really promote us going into these deeper places as often, into these deeper emotions and deeper spaces into the dark. We revere the light and the heavens and getting high.

Pussy is a bit edgy, and the power that’s held there is really sustainable. Slow and steady wins the race. Pussy’s never in a rush. We’re not skyrocketing, you know? We’re not doing that.

We’re really excavating and taking our time. With excavation, you think of archeological digs. You have to be really careful. You can’t just ram a freaking drill into the ground. You have to really manage your dig because there are really beautiful, delicate artifacts underneath that are preserved, and they’re very fragile, but they’re very valuable, right? It’s about remembering that value in going deep and being in the muck, and in the shit, and in the dark, and how traversing that is very different than, you know, skiing down a mountain or whatever the adrenaline rush is for the day.

There’s no end point. It’s really not a goal-oriented way of consciousness. Yeah, I don't know how else to say it other than don’t expect anything. Don’t have a goal towards anything or some sort of idea of an outcome. It’s more playful than that, but it’s also more relaxed in a way, like gentle, and calm. Very feminine. Very deep.

There's not much to say. Like, at that level of depth, you don't really need to talk that much.


Kalah Hill:

The thing about the feminine that’s awesome and badass is that she is really supportive. She’s really caring, and she’s really nurturing. However, she’s also really fierce and doesn't fuck around. Like, she doesn't fuck around. So if you’re fucking around, she’s going to practice some tough love, and she’s going to flip your shit upside down to wake you up. So it’s this very fierce energy of tough love. It’s like when you see a mom basically being like, do not touch that hot stove, it will burn you, it’s like, wow, you wake up, you know?

And it’s all out of love, this really fierce kind of mama love that’s tough, a not-in-my-house kind of thing.


Kalah Hill:
I had been doing a daily self-pleasure practice, which comes and goes for me throughout my whole life. So I’m very skilled and I’ve had a lot of practice, so that on top of the meditation, on top of the surrender of asking, “What is my purpose? Speak through me,” my daily prayers and intentions are always around the questions, “How can I be of service? What wants to come through me?”


Kalah Hill: All of my external kind of grasping and my external hooks really fell away, and all I had was this really empty dark space to be in, and I let myself go there probably for the first time in my life.

I felt I had the reserves and the strength in place with all the practices I had been doing that I could go so deep into grief and so deep into sadness that I knew that I would be okay. I had complete faith the whole time. I knew that it was a massive opportunity for me, and I spoke to it in that way from day one. Then, because I know as a postpartum doula that self-care goes out the window when you’re in the depths of something so vulnerable, that you need community care at that point. So my friends, my lovely, lovey, beautiful friends were there, and I called them in.


Sadness is super clear. When you’re sad, you’re not bullshitting yourself at all, and you can actually receive a lot of really valuable nuggets of information about the truth in deep sadness. Sadness is super honest. So I went there.

It’s absolutely beautiful, and so that’s what happens when you go to the spaces that are scary and dark. You actually start to remember that love is the truth of everything.


Jen Sinkler:

You know that in your class, I’d been expecting to check out my pussy in the mirror all the time — which did happen — but pussy consciousness was not even close to being about sex, or sex alone, because you really took me through a lot of my own grief, different injuries at different points of my life that I had been really attached to.

I’m still peeling back my own grip on habits and patterns that had been playing out at each level. Each of the spirals gets deeper, and looking at the grief was a big part of what we did.

Well, that’s what I did, that’s not what everybody has to do, though, right? You don’t even pretend to put this idea of pussy consciousness into a package like, “Here’s what you’ll get!” It’s like, fuck, who knows? Let’s find out.

Kalah Hill:
Let’s find out. Exactly. Let’s find out. Are you ready? You know, are you ready for the invitation to say yes to the love that is there for you in every moment? And love is not about butterflies, and unicorns, and fairies all the time. It can be, but love is all encompassing. Love remembers that every single moment of your life has been on purpose since the big bang fucking theory, or the first orgasm, which I call the big bang. It’s always been on purpose, and coming back to remembering that is needed to be done in support of other people.

This is not something that we do alone. We need each other, and I think we’ve forgotten that in a lot of ways, and that’s why a lot of people aren’t at peace, because we’ve been told a lot of bullshit about charging forward, and doing it on your own, and hard work pays off, and grind, grind, grind, and don’t feel too much. Don’t think too much. Don't engage too much, because it’s a scary, scary world. We’ve been repressed, repressed, repressed, repressed, and we’ve forgotten the truth of our expansive nature and our ability to really go to some far out, deep fucking places.

Costa Rica is such a place of healing. Always has been, always will be. Many, many people come down specifically to Guanacaste region for healing, and it’s just a magical, special place. I didn't know where I was going to live. I was like, maybe British Columbia, maybe Costa Rica. After being down here for two days, it was like a no-brainer. I was like, yes, and honestly, my pussy told me.

About two years ago now, I started to have just spontaneous orgasms occur, and a lot of times it would happen when I was driving. They say that the Kundalini rising or the Shakti rising happens when you’re doing something that you don't have to think about too much. Driving is very familiar, and many of us can kind of drive without thinking too hard about it, and so a lot of this would happen in the car, and I remember talking to my friends like, is this normal?

It starts with a tingling sensation in my pussy like an orgasm, like I’m starting to get turned on, and then it builds, and builds and builds, and it’s almost like a wavelike state, and I have to breathe or else I’m going to come in public, or you know, at a yoga class, and I have to concentrate. I start really breathing into it, and I started to do meditation around it every time it would spontaneously arise, and I started to gain a sense of control over the direction of it.

I started to bring it up as opposed to down and out. Instead of releasing the pleasure, I started to sustain it. I started to breathe it up and in and maintain this higher energy. My postpartum doula training was really opening for me, super healing.

The first weekend training I did was in Philly, and it was super fun. I got some badass doulas in Philly if you ever need them. Really amazing birth community there.

So I did my training with Beth, this fiery redheaded Aries, all tatted up. She’s had three kids. She’s delivered over 500 babies. She’s just badass. So I go to this training. I had my Airbnb. I got kind of a nice one with a bathtub, you know, just to treat myself for the weekend, and after the first day, I broke down. It broke open a piece of me that I had been really resistant to breaking open around lineage and family and around some family traumas as a child.

And old, old stuff came up from when my mom was pregnant with me, stuff that was happening when I was in the womb space, the energy that I was picking up of my mom not having a partner, no one being there to support her, and how that fear translated through to my experience. One of my deepest desires is to take care of my mother. So of course I’m going to be a postpartum doula, right? I want to take care of the mamas.

When I got home and was digesting it all and letting it go through me, that’s when I started having spontaneous orgasms, that’s when this pleasure center reopened in some way. It was pretty trippy and intense, and it started happening in my dreams, full-on orgasmic dreams. I mean, that had always been quite accessible to me, especially as a child. It very much reminds me of how I was when I was a kid, to be honest, because I was in this state at age five very easily. It was almost like my body was remembering on a very visceral, neurological, physiological, biochemical level. My body changed.

When I came to Costa Rica, I had been practicing this orgasmic state, controlling it and also being able to bring it up. Essentially I could start breathing, and I could bring it up, and I could come without even touching myself. So I’d practiced for a while harnessing it, and when I came down here, I was doing a lot of stuff on the beach, near the ocean.

Water is a big one for me. Water helps activate it and just being on the ocean, and putting my hands in the sand, and having the water rush over me and through me was  full-fledged orgasmic ecstasy, like, yes, yes, yes, this is where my body wants to be in every moment. Like, please, can we live here? Please, please, please? I don’t know how else to send the signals. This is a direct signal. It’s like air control, air control, please land. Please land here.

This is where you’re meant to land, and I said yes to her, and I’ve never felt more of a sense of place in my life ever than I do now in this moment.


Kalah Hill:
My pussy told me to move here, and I listened, and it’s awesome, and I don’t know if I explained pussy consciousness at all.

Jen Sinkler:
You did. It’s different for everyone, right?

Kalah Hill:
It is. It’s different for everyone. Every woman is unique unto herself. Every human is unique unto themselves, and no one will ever have your experience, you know? No one’s ever going to know what it’s like to be Jenny. Only you get to know that. It’s so special and so not unique because everybody has it. Do you know what I mean? It’s so special because it’s different for everyone, but it’s not unique. It’s not special in the sense of only you have it. It’s special because it’s unique unto you.

Jen Sinkler:
Your path is your path, essentially.

Kalah Hill:
Your path is your path, and the only person who truly gets to love you fully is you because you’re the only person who really knows you. I don't know what it’s like to be you, and I can love you for all the things that I perceive in you and all the things that I understand through my own perceptions and my own lens, and I can love you from that space, but I can never love you from you, which is the biggest opportunity and the biggest privilege, I believe, of being alive.

And if we’re not taking advantage of that privilege, we are doing a disservice to ourselves first, then to other people in our lives, and then to the planet as a whole. Taking on the responsibility of getting to know yourself means access that you have to yourself that no one else has. Taking advantage of that is where we’re going with pussy consciousness.

Kalah Hill:
There are layers, and the layers involve a lot of external privileges that have to do with injustice and inequalities, our hierarchical system, and a lot of them are illusory and true at the same time.

Let’s take white privilege, for example. White privilege is a truth. It’s a construct of the social norms that we live in. It’s a construct of our external realities and the hierarchies that we’re involved in socially. The only power that’s in it is accessing the platform that you have within the confines of the social structure in which we live so that you can service others from that platform, but that platform is not real. Everyone’s equal. You know what I mean? That platform is only real because we created it so.

Jen Sinkler:
I’m curious about how to navigate being injured and also exploring yourself.

Kalah Hill:
You navigate it by trusting that you can hold the brevity of it. Pussy consciousness teaches us that we have so much more capacity than we know, than what we’ve been told that we have. It is completely possible for you to respect the paradigms of this current reality while simultaneously understanding that it’s all fucking bullshit. It is completely possible.

We have been so conditioned for it to be either/or, and that is false.

It doesn't mean you’re not taking responsibility. People think it’s like about going into the mountains and disappearing. That’s not how you get to know yourself. That’s so not it. Pussy consciousness is like, yes, we focus on the self, and it’s so much about relating. The consequences of getting to know yourself actually make you a more active person.

Jen Sinkler:
Because you’re plugged in.

Kalah Hill:
Yes, because you’re plugged in. You’re turned on. You’re fucking able to traverse landscapes that you never even thought you would go to, and you’re like, suited up. You’re suited up and fucking ready to go, you know, when you access that privilege of self. It’s like the mothership. To me, it’s the root. It’s the core.


Kalah Hill:

The feminine is the inspiration. So the feminine is the inspiration to action, and I’m talking energetic, so I’m not just talking women and men and everyone, but I’m saying that women have a stronger access point. Hence why I’m starting with women. So with the stronger access point, women can really access their feminine because we already embody feminine even though we have been conditioned rigorously to not do so. We’ve been burned for doing so. We have literally been killed. We have been abused. We have been tarnished. We have been violated. We have been under scrutiny for centuries for accessing our feminine.

So there’s a lot of trauma associated with us uncovering and unmasking ourselves, and so this is why it’s so important for us to get the support that we need and to show up as we are, because if we’re not showing up as we are, we’re not doing the work.

I’m asking you to be here with us as we traverse this really fucking scary landscape. We need each other.


Kalah Hill:

We have deep beliefs about how we’re supposed to be in almost every way that we relate.

You realize that it’s not you. It’s your programming.


Kalah Hill:

There’s a fierceness. Nurturance and care and respect, as well as this fierce fire that never really goes out, and I don’t see it going out ever again in my lifetime. I’m just happy to be in this space of knowing that this is me fully engaged with purpose and having such clarity around why I’m here.

I need everything prior to this moment to be in this moment, so it just opens so much trust for me in the process. I really trust all of it now.



Kalah Hill

As a bisexual, biracial woman of color, Kalah Hill knows it is her responsibility to activate compassion, freedom, and truth within herself and within others. The potent medicine of compassion comes from radical self-love. As the founder of Pussy Consciousness, her intention is to reclaim the wisdom and integrity of the feminine. She lives in Costa Rica. Find her at @kalah.hill on Instagram. 

Sinkler Bio Photo.jpg

Jen Sinkler

 Jen Sinkler is a longtime writer, editor, and personal trainer based in Philadelphia. Her strength website, Unapologetically Strong, offers a number of different portals into strength training. Find her most everyplace @jensinkler.