empty spaces

amores,

it’s finally warming up outside, and i feel like i’ve been calling spring into my life since the pandemic first started a year ago. i’ve been waiting and aching to soak in sunshine and florals and rooftop mimosas. but, as we know, New York came to a full stop last year. i visited the Brooklyn Botanic Gardens once in may or june with my mom, and the experience was eerie. and not spring-like at all. for the first time i can remember, the gardens were almost completely empty, desolate. we were told that, like the rest of the city, the gardens had to close because of the pandemic, and so a lot of the seasonal planting and cultivating that normally takes place didn’t happen. it was surreal.

does spring still come even when there are no flowers to bloom?

and what exactly happens when the seasons don’t arrive the way we expect? as my mother and i made our way through the dormant gardens, i thought to myself: does spring still come even when there are no flowers to bloom? what is spring without flowers? and that’s exactly what 2020 often felt like for me; a lot of: “can this be without _____?” without. without. without. can NY be NY without Broadway? without restaurants? without brunches? and tourists? who am i without…a job? school? a romantic partner? a specific friend?

at some point, my piscean tendencies led me to this conclusion: in order to confront the without, i’d have to look within. but that’s so esoteric, it’s painful. i found my attention wandering constantly, and because i was home, i found my sight settling on all of the things around me.

i was Sisyphus and all my clutter was my rock.

is there a better way to bring spring energy into your life than some spring cleaning? personally, i prefer sundresses and mimosas, but i’m always down to try new strategies. like so many others, i was and am OBSESSED with Marie Kondo. i’ve read her books, binge-watched her show. but no matter how hard i tried, i just couldn’t bring myself to implement her methods. i won’t tell you how many times i’ve piled all of my clothes on my bed, asking myself over and over again “does this spark joy for me?” the process is difficult. and exhausting. and honestly, some days tidying up just felt like an insurmountable task.

most days, i felt like i was Sisyphus and all my clutter was my rock. no matter how much time and energy i dedicated to “the life-changing magic of tidying up,” the clutter always seemed to re-appear, bigger and more suffocating than before.

i couldn’t quite put my finger on why i was having such a hard time. and then early this year, while i was visiting with my mom, i noticed a book on one of her shelves– The Abundance Project. i’d never noticed the book before, and my mom has no idea where it came from. i don’t know why this impulse rose up in me, but i decided that i needed to read that book.

you see, here’s another thing i’d been struggling with: i barely read in 2020. anyone who knows me knows that reading is a must in my life. books follow me everywhere. there was a time when i chose to read over sleeping…and i LOVE sleeping. but mix a pandemic with job hunts and ADHD and anxiety…and well. my books started collecting dust. fortunately, Chimamanda Ngozi Adiche had recently blessed us all with this gem: “if you want to read, then read!”

and so The Abundance Project made its way to the top of my to-read list. i’m not familiar with Derek Rydall’s other works, but this particular book felt enjoyable, i won’t do a full book review here (maybe another time), and i’ll also admit that i did have some qualms with some of his ideas, but i will share a few bits of wisdom that especially resonated:

much of [the clutter we keep] is unresolved emotional material; a futile holding on to your lost youth and better days; an act of self-preservation for some future lack when you’ll need those twenty boxes of sterile wipes you bought at the Dollar Store! it’s also a form of control, a way to feel like you exist–a means of giving weight, literally, to your existence.

Rydall (2018), The Abundance Project, p. 93

Derek Rydall read me for filth. but he doesn’t stop there. he goes on to talk about the process of clearing away the clutter. he talks about acknowledging that our things carry energy too. and when they just sit there, existing as monuments to our pasts or the dreams we’ve abandoned, they prevent our energy from flowing.

when we clear the clutter, we’re breathing new life into our spaces. but here’s the trick: because we live in a capitalist, consumer society, our instinct is to fill our spaces back up again. because we’ve learned to identify ourselves with the things we own. think about it…everyone is selling something these days. it’s easier than ever to get everything delivered directly to you. and we’re all buying. whether it’s cars, clothes, subscriptions, plants, books, degrees, stocks, environmentally-conscious straws, masks, games, furniture …(i could literally go on for days)…we’re all buying. so Derek invites us to resist that urge. to instead learn to sit in and with the emptiness. why? because an empty space is very much a blank canvas…a place where possibilities become endless: “There’s a reason the Bible describes the promised land as a desert, because it’s not filled up with a bunch of old stuff. It’s pure potential, where anything is possible” (98).

embracing empty spaces has been one of the most liberating experiences of my life.

on their own, these passages ignited something inside of me that i haven’t experienced before…something akin to desire. i deeply wanted to experience emptiness, expansiveness, possibilities. and so i emptied. i started with my closet, and soon found myself reimagining all of the spaces i exist in. (even the virtual ones.) and let me tell you, embracing empty spaces has been one of the most liberating experiences of my life. because suddenly, i’m engaging with these spaces. my imagination comes to life. i’m able to open myself, to expand into these spaces. i am vast.

i can feel potential and possibility swelling all around me.

and now, dear reader, i’d like to ask: do empty spaces scare you?

my body is offensive

an open letter to the woman who decided to body shame me at the gym during my workout –

before you felt the need to attack my body and my psyche with your words, i overheard you say that the gym is what you live for. and i’m glad. your sweat is your gold.

i understand that to someone like you, my body is offensive.

it’s the site of joys and loves most people won’t ever know.

my waist is more than enough for little arms to wrap around. children cling to it and find comfort. when they bury tear streaked faces in the softest part of my abdomen, they’re reminded — no matter what the world’s told you, right now, with me, you’re safe. this is home.

when my friends hug me, they press close to my chest. because when something’s this warm. this expansive. it’s like being held by the skies.

my love trades their ties for my thighs because what they sow here triples in growth.

i’ve judged my body more harshly than you or anyone else ever could, done more damage than your words would ever do.

and it still carries me to all of the places i need to go.

i want you to know — purpose has always lined my bones. my body’s a reflection. my skin shifts. trembles. because i am thunder. and downpours. i am seismic. eruptions. my body spills in the most offensive ways because my cup runneth over. there are blessings in each of these folds.

i know my body is offensive. controversial. majestic. alluring. ineffable. masterpieces are.

respectfully,

@dianalapoeta

How Going Without Sex for (almost) a Year Changed My Life

I love sex. I love everything that has to do with sexual expression. Don’t get me wrong — I’ve had my share of shitty experiences. But overall, I look forward to the teasing, the anticipation, the shared intimacy, the orgasms (hopefully)! I even loved sex before I started having it. As a girl who relied so heavily on language for self-expression, I couldn’t wait to connect with my high school sweetheart on a physical level. I remember spending the days leading up to our first time doing all sorts of research, mentally and emotionally preparing for the act, and when the day came…well. That’s a story for another day. Needless to say, I was hooked.

I never imagined that I would go down a path of abstinence, especially as a 30 year old, especially after sex dictated so many of my relationships for the past 13 years of my life. But when my husband and I decided to separate last year, I figured that this was the perfect time for me to … enjoy my own company, so to speak.

I remember telling one of my closest friends about my plan and she asked me the real hard hitting  question: why would you do that to yourself? And I can’t tell you how many times over the past year I’ve asked myself the same question…when my high school BFF messages me pictures of our favorite adult star crushes, when an old flame offered to fly me across the country, when that ridiculously sexy bartender asked for my phone number, or when my current crush leaned in for a kiss (yes, a crush – how retro, I know. And yes, I chose to abstain from kissing too). On those occasions, I could feel my will power wavering, and I wondered why the hell I committed to a year. Wasn’t a month long enough? Two? Six?

Before I continue – I have to be totally honest. I did slip up once over the course of my 365-day quest. In the immortal words of Beyoncé – “I get filthy when that liquor get into me.” Too much wine and too many months of sexual build up, and abstinence was out the window.

But, I forgave myself, recommitted and reaped some amazing benefits along the way. There are a ton of articles floating around out there about the detriments of not having sex for an extended period of time, and I’m here to call bullshit. Choosing abstinence in 2017 was one of the best choices I’ve made.

Understanding My Desire

Before my husband moved out, we attended an orgasmic meditation training hosted by OneTaste (check them out!). I won’t go into detail about the experience here because honestly, I still don’t have words for it. And really, you should experience it for yourselves. All I can say is: it was AMAZING.

Months passed, and I was still thinking about that day at OneTaste. I remember chatting with one of my good friends about it. A note about my friend – we’ve never met, which somehow makes it sooooo much easier to talk about all of these messy topics in full color. So, I felt truly comfortable sharing my deepest secret with him: as much as I’ve always loved sex, I’d never seen fireworks. I get off on the performance of sex, on getting other people off. But when it comes to my own pleasure, I was always shy about it. I get tense before the big O, and I guess I was always afraid to let someone see me “lose control.” I described it to him like this: Sex always felt like a balloon filling with air, but I never knew what would happen if the balloon finally popped.

With his enthusiastic support, he gently guided me through my first real exploration of my own body. It was fucking terrifying, and I’m so grateful to him for metaphorically holding my hand as I opened the floodgates of my desire.

I’ve always lived in theory. I hide behind my intellect because it’s easier to be smart than it is to be intimate and vulnerable. When I decided to get out of my own head, I found myself finally in tune with my body, responding in new ways to all of its needs and desires.


I hide behind my intellect because it’s easier to be smart than it is to be intimate and vulnerable.

And yes, I am able to bring myself to orgasm (even multiples) in a single session, but more importantly, I know what my body wants, when it wants it, and how to satiate all of its desires.

Feeling Sexier than Ever

I’ve never doubted my appeal. And I’m in no way coming from a place of cockiness. I’ve just always understood that I’m relatively attractive (I’m sure the double d’s play a major role in this).

But when you spend time with yourself, learn to love up on yourself, learn to know what your body needs, and are so connected with it…well, I’ve been blowing my own mind recently. I don’t feel just “relatively attractive.” I feel like I’m dripping in my sexuality. I feel downright beautiful and confident. And even though I’m not having sex, I have that glow about me all the time.

Now – I’m sure that at this point it might feel like even when I’m not having sex, it rules me. But that’s not the case. In fact, I’m finding that sex has shifted for me. It’s no longer about a performance of bodies. Sex has taken on a whole new role in my life; it’s become about understanding, self acceptance, self love, and growth for me.


I’m finding that sex has shifted for me. It’s no longer about a performance of bodies. Sex has taken on a whole new role in my life; it’s become about understanding, self acceptance, self love, and growth for me.

This newfound self-awareness is not limited to my physical desires. I’m finding myself so confident in my choices, so in love with my journey, with my body, with my self, that I no longer need outside validation in order to feel attractive, or smart, or sexy. I dress and speak and move how and when I want. I’m taking risks, exploring the world outside of my comfort zone, and I’m calling all of the shots. What could be sexier than that?

Creative Fuel

There’s a part of me that thinks I might’ve been a sex-junkie. If I wasn’t having it, I was talking about it, or watching it, or thinking about it. Suddenly I had this void in my life and I really had no idea how to fill it. I was so used to bingeing on touch. And for the first few months of this little experiment, all of that sexual energy was just building up inside of me. I found myself getting agitated easily. When you have so much energy just sitting there, you get restless. I wasn’t sleeping well, lost all kinds of focus. And then, sometime in March, I started writing.

A friend of mine once said: “all art is based in sexual energy.” Super Freudian, I know. But I could not agree more.


“All art is based in sexual energy.”

I started writing a poem a day. And slowly that has been evolving into something more, something deeper. In less than a year, I’ve filled two notebooks with poetry, stories, musings. It got to the point that I decided to share some of this stuff with the world, because the words and ideas just keep coming.

And my exploration hasn’t stopped with my writing. I’m finding myself expending more of this energy that’s living inside of me on all sorts of activities that have inspired me at different points in my life – swimming, reading, learning a new language. Like I said earlier, I’m connected with my desires now in such a way I’m finding inspiration at every turn.

It has been an incredible, eye-opening year, and I cannot wait to see where this path of self love, acceptance, and awareness leads me next.