5 Ways I Curated my relationship with Pleasure
I remember waking up at 5am, rushing to work, staying late– it sometimes felt like a competition for who stayed latest. The prize? Bragging rights. But getting home at 8:30pm everyday of the week was not just physically taxing, it was emotionally depleting. I began to resent my relationship to work until I realized I was the only one who could change that. I had nothing to “prove,” I had the job and didn’t have to set myself on fire to prove I deserved it.
I began to actively seek pleasurable ways to engage in my life. I started with five key actions.
5. I journaled. I let myself brain dump everything that was sitting on my chest and in my heart and lying doormat in my body. I let the pages have my anxiety. My rage. My resentment. All of it. And I watched as the ink bled from my pen to the white space between the straight blue lines.
4. I said “YES.” “Want to go to an event this weekend?” YES. “Want to grab dinner on a work night?” I ONE HUNDRED PERCENT DO. “Want to book a trip to Dubai because the tickets are really cheap?” Let me get my wallet! I was willing to say yes when I felt it instead of suffocating it. As a result, I stopped suffocating.
3. I said “No.” It wasn’t sexy, but it was honest. I used no when saying yes meant betraying myself, so I had to learn my own boundaries, even if it was something “I liked,” there were other questions I needed to consider.
2. I made my home my haven. I began to discover my creativity and style when I was intentional about having my home be a pleasure place to live.
1. I made a life for myself outside of work. I discovered that I loved creating art. So I did just that. I found an artist residency program, applied and created. I realized that I loved dates– so I calendared solo dates, friend dates, bouquet making parties. All the things. I made time for my life. I made time for the life I wanted.
I was born worthy. I was worthy then. And am now. And so are you.
You are worthy of pleasure. Of curating your relationship with pleasure and watch your light brighten and life shift.
Check out www.miadunlap.com for my exclusive on #Pleasure. I did not hold back.
Following the Sun: 6 States in 6 Months
The Audacity to Backpack the U.S.
I packed up my apartment, ended the lease, returned my leased Lexus, and took the leap.
In October 2020, I had the radical idea to go to a spring/summer writing or arts residency for three months. In December I applied for a promotion at my job to work in Human Resources, in January I got the role and as a result, the residency idea began to feel distant and unlikely.
Because my role is remote (and it would remian so post the pandemic), I could create my own art & wrting experiences by traveling through the U.S. and begin in June 2021 — but every month until June, I changed my mind or had a new idea that wasn’t as audacious. I couldn’t tell if I was scared, overwhelmed, or whether the imposter syndrome was taking over me the way it did when I backpacked Europe for three months in 2016. Maybe all of those were true. I called my coach, “What if this is intuition telling me no, what if this is a healthy fear sharing not now, what if I’m not supposed to go?” She responded, “Well, go see. Healthy fear would take you to the airport while unhealthy fear will have you stifled and in your head debating what if.”
I purchased a refundable ticket to Puerto Rico in March. Then I told my closest friends & family my goal, while I wanted them to be happy for me, subconsciously, I wanted someone to confirm my trepidation. Some did — “You’ve invested so much money in your apartment in the last year.” “Why you doing that, why not just go visit those places, your place is so beautiful — and your bomb ass amenities!” “Girl, you didn’t even give Atlanta a real chance, I don’t think you’re really going to go.”
Their voices were my inner voice outside my body… yet none of the reasons were compelling enough to stay.
So I leapt.
I mapped the places I wanted to visit most, there were 13 — some of which included — creating art on Virginia Beach, letting the Hawaiian sun cradle me, lying in a hammock on Myrtle Beach, blazing the trails in Maine, gazing at the mounuments and mountains in New Mexico, being smitten by the Grand Canyons, writing at the retreat centers in Colorado, connecting with the vibrant folks in Houston, enmeshing in the rich culture of New Orleans, the creating in the ever expanding Seattle, and so many others.
I couldn’t imagine giving up the potential of those experiences for my beautiful apartment, luxury car, and imposter syndrome.
So I left.
Two days shy of my 33rd birthday, I boarded my first ever first class flight to San Juan, Puerto Rico, June 14, 2021 and stayed at the at the Condado Ocean Club hotel as it was reminiscent of the luxury of what I’d released. With a backpack and a rolling suitcase, I rode to the third floor of the hotel, unlocked the door, lied on the king sized bed covered in white linen and thought, “this is my taste of freedom. THIS IS AUDACITY.”
We are capable of living a life that is deeply fulfilling and juicy and creative and any time we aren’t living that, it’s possible to choose it.
What life are you willing to choose? What is your deepest life yearning? What’s in the way of you living it? Sign up for my newsletter at www.miadunlap.com, next month,I’m releasing audacity workshops that support you in curating the life you want!
Glamping Experience at the Getaway House
“I’m not an outdoor person, so I don’t think that camping stuff is for me.” Y’all — me either! I told the life coach that I’m starting with, “I’ve gotten myself as far as I can go, I need a team for the life I am on the brink of.”
So, I’ve been doing things I’ve never done to get results I’ve not gotten. Spending time in nature is not something I’d grown up doing or am accustomed to, but I realize how healing nature is and how much it deepens my relationship with myself to sit with myself in silence, with my aches, with my daydreams, with depressing thoughts, with my questions, with my joy and just notice and be. I need the connection, I need that silence. I’ve found it in nature.
When we deepen our relationship with ourselves and with The Universe, we can hear our inner voice and trust it more often. I trust myself to attract the team I need in this next phase of my life. -The Audacity Coach
Specific questions about my Getaway experience and my response:
- Where did you go?
I went to the Getaway Escape in GA, about two hours outside of Atlanta, in Suches.
- How did you hear about it?
A friend of mine has gown a couple times and recommended it for a solo escape — we both enjoy solo trips.
- How long did you stay?
Three days and two nights.
- Did you go solo?
No, a friend of mine flew in from Boston so that we could go together. But after visiting, I’d def do this as a solo experience, too.
- Did it feel safe?
Yes! It did, there are other cabins close enough to feel like you’re not alone in the middle of nowhere but far enough to have the solace and space you want.
- What did you do?
I brought some activities for us to do, but honestly, we didn’t have to. Activities I brought:
- Kites to fly
- Books to read
- Paint (to paint rocks and trees)
- Board games to play
- Wine 🙂 to drink
- Prompts to write
Activities that were already embedded in the experience:
- Building a campfire
- Exploring the cabin area
- Watching the sunrise/set
- Bird-watching & listening
- Were their bugs inside the cabin?
When we left the screen open, we saw a bug fly in but ushered it out. We saw one other bug on the second day. In general, though, the cabins were clean, neat, and absent of any additional company.
- What did you do for food?
The day before we made a Target run for snacks and brought salad and pre-baked sweet potatoes from home. The day of, we went to the Whole Foods hot bar and snagged some of our faves.
- Was it scary at night?
Not sure, I was asleep. We built a campfire by 7:30/8:00pm and retired for the night. The days felt really long because we immersed ourselves fully into whatever we did… so we were tired by the end of the night. It felt safe, even with the large windows to sleep, but there’s also a shade to pull down in case we wanted, but we didn’t.
- What was the inside of the cabin like?
Quaint, filled with only the essentials, clean, compact. There was a bathroom with a door, kitchen with a stove and mini fridge, bunk bed, table for dining, and storage space all inside…. And the beds were either full or queen size.
- What was challenging about the experience?
Driving there was the most challenging part for me because it’s about 30 minutes of mountain driving before we arrive at the cabin — and I am not a fan of all the twists and turns. It’s beautiful scenery but I didn’t like the last stretch of the drive.
- What was your favorite part?
Favorite part was discovering the pond. I love water and was grateful to be able to sit and write on the dock. It was the highlight for me, because it wasn’t advertised — so we found it on one of our hikes on the second day.
It takes AUDACITY to do something new, to be a beginner, to take the leap! I’d love to be on your team as your Audacity Coach to help you curate a life you love and tell your story! Set up a discovery call with me at www.miadunlap.com. You may also be interested in a retreat that we’ll be hosting soon, please leave your email so that we can send you more information!
I Used to Lie to My Therapist
I don’t want him to know how bad the depression got this time. I don’t want him to think I’m not growing. I don’t want him to see how badly I sometimes talk to myself. I want him to like me. I want him to see me as “good.”
Me: Yesterday was really hard for me. Really, really hard.
Him: Tell me what was hard.
Me: I couldn’t get out of bed. I couldn’t bring myself to shower. I could barely get up to pee.
Him: What was that like? Drop in.
Me: (he’s asking me to feel it as I share about it instead of recounting a memory).
Hmmm I don’t know.
Him: See if you can know. See if you can know what it was like.
Me: Did you ever check out the book I mentioned two weeks ago.
Him: I want to talk about the book later, right now I want to stay with you in this… in what it was like to not be able to get out of bed or shower.
Me: Well, I could shower if I really wanted to and I actually did go pee when it got bad.
Me: I’m having a hard time telling you something.
Him: What’s making it hard?
I’ve been seeing my therapist for about 5 years. In the beginning I had an appointment every Thursday. Every single Thursday after work I took the C train from Jay Street to Spring Street and walked 4 blocks to his office building that was about 16 stories high. His office was on the 5th floor.
I sat in the brown accent chair across from him. It seemed to embrace my body as I plopped down. It knew me.
Every session seemed to start with silence. With Andrew sitting less than 4 feet across from me in his black rolley chair that made squeaking sounds when he moved…. just looking at me.
I’d usually begin with slight overwhelm.
Him (with a grin): Just taking a moment. Taking you in. How are you?
Yo. This is exactly why I pay him over $100 a week, out of network. For this moment.
For someone to take me in. For someone to sit with me. For the focus to be on me and my world for 60–90 minutes. I need this. I love that I have him.
His “How are you?” is an actual question not a passing greeting. He wants to know how I am. He’s invested in my response…genuinely curious.
But it is because of this moment that I sometimes withhold the full truth. What if next time he isn’t happy to see me? Or worse, doesn’t want to be my therapist anymore?
Me: I’m having a hard time telling you something.
Him: What’s making it hard?
Me: I sometimes lie to you.
Him: Sometimes we lie because we’re afraid. Is there something you’re afraid of?
Me: You not wanting me if I told you everything
Him: Where else have you felt like if you told the truth you’d be left?
That question took me back to all the ways I had to pretend to be someone I wasn’t in order to make it through the hood… through poverty… through life. I had to pretend in order to survive.
I don’t have to pretend anyone. I’ve already survived.
Releasing & Healing: I Dated a Woman for 5 Years
It’s national coming out day, but I believe it’s a day to call others in… into a world that may be different from the one in which they live.
I met a woman over seven years ago and we dated for about 5. When she approached me, I hadn’t realized how much I wanted her. I’d never dated a woman before. I’d never been in a same sex relationship. And yet I’d never wanted to be with another human as much as I wanted to be with her.
For a year and a half, I said, “I’m not sure if this relationship is my forever” and “but what about what other people will say if they knew” and “this is not how I planned to live my life — as a lesbian woman.” I knew little about the lesbian culture and community. What I knew for sure though was I was supposed to be the one in my family to do life “the right way…” the way that was traditional and replicable.
- College — check
- Career — check
- Travel — check
- Savings — check
- Never do drugs — check
I was on a roll. I was the poster child. How could I be gay!? It was messing up the story. And then there was church and church people. My church people. I spent years trying to make myself and my family matter to God. I spent years in church pleading for God to get us out of the projects and to make us not poor anymore. Being gay meant I was messing up the testimony, right? God wouldn’t want to help us anymore if I didn’t do things “decently and in order,” right?
We needed this win as a family and I was supposed to be the one to “be it.”
After a year and a half of my emotional crisis, I realized, I couldn’t stop loving her. I didn’t want to do life without her. But she was torn. Was the “ identity crisis” really over?
Her family had disowned her during that 1.5 years because she’d chosen our relationship. She’d chosen to be gay. They expressed their disgust and left.
Following that time, she and I spent the next 3 years together… unpacking our baggage from old tapes that played in our heads telling us who we had to be and how we were supposed to live. We traveled. We went to therapy. We hurt and cried. We lived together and made plans to be married and build a family together. We hiked and painted and covered each other in love.
But you know the feeling when you’re reading a good book, a really good and juicy book and you can feel the story coming to an end… and you resist it? You start reading more slowly or in our case, kissing more intentionally and softly and then page by page… word by word… letter by letter….
My ask of you is to let people have their lives. Whatever that is. Let people love freely and live freely. Release the need to impart your traditional thinking on someone else’s life and honor the one you’re being called to live.