Sacred Links Between Grief & Pleasure with Kalah Hill

September 6, 2023 8:28 pm Published by

Hello, dear ones. I’m coming to you with the first guest podcast in a new series all about grief and grief tending and what it can look and feel like when we apply a spiritual lens.

This four-part series will explore grief tending through pleasure, astrology, plant magic, and working with crystals. One of the many gifts I’ve received from my work with grief and death is learning how much wisdom and healing can be found in walking with my grief more intentionally. I’ve learned that grief is not an isolated emotion to be relegated to the loss of a beloved. Grief is ever present and has so much to teach us. As my work shifts deeper into rites of passage around death and reclaiming magical practices I’ve been severed from, I continue to learn more and more from my ability to be with and tend to my grief and how connected grief is to so many other topics, like pleasure, ancestral work, and reclaiming a personal magical practice. 

This first episode with Kalah Hill is so, so rich. I embarked on the Maiden to Mother Teacher Training hosted by Sarah Durham Wilson and many others over the last year, and Kalah was one of the facilitators during the training. When I say this training rocked my world, it’s truly an understatement. It’s also the inspiration for my upcoming retreat I mention in this episode. But for today, I want to focus on the work I experienced with Kalah and how it opened my eyes to the deep connections between grief and pleasure. 

Freedom Doula and Pleasure activist Kalah Hill is the founder of In Pleasure We Trust. Through her many years as a student of trust, Kalah regenerates space with her clients with care and sweet rootedness. Kalah evokes permission for sovereignty within the landscape of our social interdependency. In her work, Kalah unravels the illusions of systemic oppression that create communities of conformity and insatiability. Kalah’s loving practice reveals the human capacity to be in equanimity, trust, and deep satisfaction. Her healing balm of pleasure is how she creates a bridge of solidarity in crossing the threshold into liberation. Kalah’s experience and facilitation is multidisciplinary, ranging from biological and ecosystem-based sciences, somatic coaching, social justice, maiden to mother lineage, and doula work. 

Here’s our chat. Click below to listen, or scroll to read.

The text below is a transcript of our recorded conversation. Grammatical and spelling errors may be present.

Cassie: hello, welcome, Kayla. I’m so happy to have you here and to chat about Pleasure and grief and all the juiciness that comes with those topics. So welcome. 

Kalah: Thank you. Cassie. It’s so nice to be here. I’m really excited. 

Cassie: Me too. before we dive into those juicy topics, I would love to hear a little bit about. The land that you’re on and maybe what that land is sharing with you today or how it’s showing up, which is a practice that I learned from Dr. Rocio Rosales Mesa that I just really love and think it’s such a beautiful way to start a space. So I’d love to hear a little bit about that from you. 

Kalah: Gorgeous.

Yeah, I’m on, the, occupied stolen territory of Guamares, the Guamares people, and I guess today known as San Miguel de Allende in Mexico. and this land has been teaching me a lot, actually. That’s such a good question. I’ve been based in Costa Rica for the last six years, in, Chorotega territory.

And I recently came out of the jungles and into the desert, mountainous, regions and it’s a completely different landscape than what I’ve been accustomed to and what I’ve been working with and I really work closely in partnership with the land. I do a lot of different ritual,and just honoring and grounding and nourishment and giving back.

And so giving back to. This land has been so clear to me that it’s time for me to transition fully out of the jungle, and I’ve been shown a lot of beauty in that transition thus far, and I’m just listening right now. I’m very new to this land. I’ve only been here for three months, so I’m, paying my dues, so to say.

and still cultivating a bond and a connection. 

Cassie: Beautiful, thank you. I didn’t realize that you had just moved, so recently. I didn’t realize I had, I’ve changed, I’ve recently came from the desert to the Midwest, so I have a reversal of lands that I’m getting to know, so I know that, that place well.

Kalah: Yeah, it’s quite potent. There’s A lot of good workings here for me, and I’m very grateful that I’m so attuned to my orientation, my, my earthly orientation. I’m very clairsentient. So wherever my body is. really matters. The environment matters. And I’m just grateful that I have such clarity around movement and where I need to be at any given moment.

So yeah, it’s beautiful. 

Cassie: I’ll pay, honor to the place that I’m on to, which I’m on, occupied Miami or Miami land, which is in so called Indiana in the States. And. I am really loving the way the land is showing up and appearing today because we’re deep in the waning moon might be in the dark moon and I’m on my moon cycle and it is overcast and cloudy and rainy outside, which feels so nourishing and like what the earth needs and what I need.

So it’s feeling, very well aligned within my body and out in the land. as far as your work, I would love to hear a little bit about what brought you to your work and maybe a little bit about your lineage and that could be ancestral lineage to what brought you to your work or just teacher lineage, whatever speaks to you and resonates and wants to come out.

but just a little bit of your journey and process to coming to the work that you do now.

Kalah: Well, I guess it always begins with the mother, right?

Um, yeah, well, I was born to Deborah, a beautiful woman. I call her a white witch. My white witch mother, descendant from, English and German blood and a wild woman, a mystic and single mom. And, I just learned, I learned a lot from my mother in terms of the capacities that I have with magic and mystery and Otherworldly ventures There was a lot of access to exploration and curiosity. I was given full permission for those things really raised, to enjoy life really raised to, be in pleasure, whether it was in my body or whether it was with food or with imagination or fantasy, those things were very much fostered. The pieces that I’ve had to pick up along the way involve my mother’s inability to be fully actualized in the 3D practical world.

And that was really challenging for her and for us. Growing up from me growing up, it was,very unstable kind of material financial situations. And so I now am in this place of creating context and bringing the dream into reality and really creating heaven on earth because I know heaven to be so true.

because of these like early on gifts of access to pleasure and enjoyment. And I remember, and I’m going to get just real honest. I remember, I started self pleasuring when I was four years old and my mother had caught me. I was in the back of the car. I was in the car exploring, It was, open.

And my mother said, asked me what I was doing. And I told her, oh, I found this thing. Oh, it’s so pleasurable. And she was incredibly supportive. She said, oh, that’s called masturbation. It’s really great for you. And. But you do it in the privacy of your bedroom, right? Because I was about to go public. And I think because of that fostering, and that, literal, no shame, no judgment around me accessing this pleasure in my body from the age of four to literally today, age 38, I just have decades of practice when it comes to, Harnessing and accessing my pleasure and enjoying myself and there’s that bleeds out into everything, right?

Like it’s not just a masturbation practice any longer. It’s like a life form of its own that really has sprung from that initial, that initial, finding inside of myself. so I’ve had a lot of amazing cultivation, as well as, my father’s side, my father’s lineage, my father is African American, black man in the United States from Harlem, and I just love to seep in black feminist literature, I love the lineage of pleasure that is the thread line of so much of.

That work, when we talk about Audre Lorde, Bell Hooks, Maya, Angelo, Nikki Giovanni, all of these brilliant black feminist writers who really saw pleasure as a critical piece of the liberation movement and the movement towards. Justice and activism work, and it’s, adrian maree brown, who just published Pleasure Activism a few years ago, really brought that collection of work together in one great piece of work, and I love that book.

It’s It’s like my Bible and because I didn’t grow up with my father and I now have a relationship with him going on about 14 plus years now. I’ve known my father and it’s been really great to actualize those components of my lineage as well. And so I definitely spring from that. And in terms of teachers, I think you and I are familiar.

We have the same teacher, Sarah. Sarah of Magdalene and she’s really supported me in the mother wound work and working with my white witch and my white witch mother, who is brilliant but also very much, indoctrinated by the patriarchy and really exiled in many ways. and it’s been so reparative to work with Sarah.

I also have a really great embodiment, embodiment dance teacher, Amber Ryan. She comes from the Five Rhythms lineage. She studied with Gabrielle Raw and, my somatics, coaching teacher. So my best friend. Who I grew up with, actually. Her name is Dana Regan, and she’s the founder of the Somatic Soul Coaching School, which I am now on faculty for as well, and also certified as a Somatic Soul Coach.

So we’ve done a lot of embodiment work with various teachers and really beloved women in my life. It’s been a great healing journey.

Cassie: I really enjoyed hearing more about your story because yes, as Kayla mentions, the way that I found, I got to know her was through, Sarah Durham Wilson, mother to maiden teacher training.

The third cohort of it that has almost come to an end. but it has just been a beautiful transformative supportive, training. One that I am just internally grateful to have been a part of and to meet so many amazing women like Kayla. and so many things are coming up. For me, just about what you shared about your lineage and your ancestry, one thing, you know, I love that you shared so honestly about self pleasuring at a young age, because I think it ties in so beautifully to pleasure and grief.

And I also have a similar story, and it’s one that’s Burned into my memory and not in a bad way, but you talking about it is just bringing up a lot of curiosity around this memory that I have. I was, I had a similar experience where I was self pleasuring. I was probably four, maybe five. And I was, it was just in the living room, like in front of the TV, just laying on the floor.

And I remember my mom just being like, what’s she doing over there? And she wasn’t. It wasn’t there wasn’t any judgment or shaming associated with it, which I’m very grateful for. But then when I think about that same kind of. Self pleasuring as a adolescent, I can sense all the shame attached to it. And I’m like, when did that happen?

How did that happen? and I feel like a big part of the teacher training, the mother to maiden teacher training has been me really rediscovering and reclaiming that pleasure in a very personal, liberatory way. 

but yeah, I would love to just hear you share more about, any musings or insights you’ve noticed in that relation between grief and pleasure and specifically self pleasure and those shifts that happen from that young age of just innately knowing that we have this ability to bring such pleasure to ourselves.

And then those shifts that happen that so many of us come into feeling shame around pleasure, which then turns to grief at a lot of times. Yeah. 

Kalah: Yeah. Yeah. Well, I want to say, yeah. Yeah. It’s almost like, welcome to planet Earth, where you will be, under threat of shame, guilt. It’s a consequence of our, of our current state of affairs and of a long history of, repression and oppression and systems that, that really are no longer sustaining, sustaining us.

And it’s so curious to me because I find this to be true for every single human is that there’s this original innocence. Where think of it’s as a young girl, just like self pleasuring in public or just in broad daylight, not even thinking twice about it. Oh, yeah, this feels good.

I’m going to do it. And. That’s what I’m trying to get back to, and not that I’m trying to masturbate in public. That I’m trying to get back to that sense of full permission and choice over my own body. Which, as most of us know, if any of us are not living inside a cave, that, women’s bodies… have been under threat for millennia for thousands and thousands of years.

Our bodies have been under threat and access to agency over our own bodies is at threat and alive and well today, especially with the Supreme Court ruling overturning of Roe versus Wade, right? All of these things have come now. There’s so much shadow work, I think, available to us, and this is where I find that when someone really accesses or remembers their pleasure for the first time in maybe, let’s say, 25 years.

There are calcifications that have formed inside of our nervous systems, inside of our bodies, that as we chisel away at those calcifications and break them open by liberating our pleasure, we’re reminded of the great grievance. That is also there in the way of we’ve kept ourselves from ourselves for far too long, and there’s something to mourn about that.

And so the way that I practice and the way that I work with clients is that I work really slowly at like piece by piece, chisel by chisel. Removing these calcifications to open to the softening of what is truly and inherently, our birthright, essentially, to be a soft human, to be safe enough, to be upheld to be, actualized, in the truth of our pleasure.

that is a process in and of itself of unraveling usually decades of shame and fear and guilt and oppression and violence and abuse and, the list goes on of what we’re unraveling. But in that unraveling, there’s a deep cathartic release that tends to happen. And typically it’s in the form of a grievance in the form of tears.

maybe there’s anger, right? we start to go through all of these stages of grief when we open to our pleasure and that’s what I see time and time again. 

Cassie: Yeah. Yeah. And that’s what inspired me to reach out to you for this was, during the teacher training, I had the pleasure of getting to be led by Kayla to, to embark on some pleasure work and what stood out to me and these were in groups.

So it was a non sexual pleasure, that we were cultivating and building and. I think that’s also such a, it’s just such a big part that, I was lacking for my personal practice. And I think something else that came up was, either in the reading, but I think it’s come up in some of the training too.

It’s just the. Pleasure that can be inherent and just in, in female relationships and friendships, that’s non sexual. And that is something that I did not even realize how much grief I had. Around that topic of all of the years of, Oh, there can be pleasure. There can be sensuality in these relationships that are not relationships with, an sexual partner, but there can still be that sensuality and pleasure there and reclaiming that.

And the grief. Oh my gosh. That is where I felt a lot of grief is around those untapped relationships where it was like a veil was lifted. Oh, I can have pleasure and sensuality in these relationships to sign me up. how do I return to that? I would love to hear you share just about, I don’t know how that’s shown up in your work or ways to cultivate that because I have found it to be a little bit.

Trickier, I would love to hear anything that’s coming up for you around that. 

Kalah: Yeah, there’s a deep need, I think, and a deep calling inside of the culture and inside of our individual bodies for touch.

And for somatic residency with one another, and there’s a couple things that came to mind. one is that we’re essentially like primates, right? We’re essentially primates, and I think that in our biology, we are wired to basically like, groom and cuddle each other. there’s something like, if you see chimpanzees or bonobos,they really, they’re always in the herd.

They’re always like grooming each other, sifting through their hair, and there’s this, real biological, mechanism that is hardwired for touch. So there’s that piece. And then I also sense another thing going on, maybe a little bit deeper around, not deeper, but just different context of we don’t need to be speaking as much it’s not so much about what we’re saying.

It’s more about how we are co regulating things. With each other by actualizing contact with each other. And, I remember reading a book by Parker J. Palmer called Let Your Life Speak. And he went through a series of really deep depressions, clinical grade depressions, and he was pretty much bedridden for months.

And, He said that the least helpful people during that time were the people who would come over and say, Oh, Parker, why don’t you get up and take a walk? Or let’s go out in the sunshine and get some fresh air. Or how about what have you eaten today? Let’s eat something together. It was like a lot of let’s get up and out of this.

And he said the most helpful person was this man, a fellow platonic male friend who would come over and he wouldn’t say anything. He would come over, he would walk in, and he would just rub his feet and he would do, give him a foot massage, Three times a week or something. And he said that was the most impactful experience during his deep depression because he felt finally that he could just be and he felt deep connection to the person that he was with.

Whereas these other people who were trying to like fix the problem and find a solution. Really, he felt completely disconnected from them. And so I do feel that touches radical and radically healing, and it’s part of, now post coven really becoming a part of my. private practice with individuals and laying of hands on what it is to even just braid each other’s hair or,take a bath together.

I do a lot of ritual bath work. And yeah, we hyper sexualize all of this. And I think it’s been hyper sexualized as like a colonial tactic to divide and conquer us from each other. Because, I can’t, have sexual relations with all of these people. I don’t want to, so I guess I can’t actually touch them.

I guess I can’t actually get into a bath with them and, play with each other’s hair, there’s all of these things that have been removed from our innate, biological needs. as a species and now it’s, it’s like we’re well enough, I think, and safe enough, at least I am. And so I take that privilege and I use it wisely to, to reestablish these connections and to practice touch as often as I can.

Obviously in consensual ways, right? It’s all in agreement. and it’s all a choice. And that’s the piece that is so liberating and wildly free. It just, it’s so nourishing to the soul. And even, even self touch right the work that we did. And in the maiden to mother journey with that one pleasure call, it’s like rose brushing.

it’s looking, it’s mirror work. it’s, how are you touching your own body is also like a really great indicator of, where you’re at in terms of opening to and responding to these inherent pleasure, wirings and codes that lie inside our nervous systems that are really wired for success.

Like they will bring a lot of, let’s say satisfaction to one’s experience. and whether that satisfaction feels good or feels bad is also not a thing, right? Because sometimes what I’ve noticed with touch is that it unlocks. Tapestries inside of my own body that actually don’t feel great. I feel really sad when they are unlocked and I’m able to go into that morning and I’m able to go into that pain a lot easier when I have appropriate touch in my life.

Cassie: I love how you phrase that. It really helped me make a little switch in my head because I’ve, like I said, one of the reasons I wanted to talk about this with you is because I see this inherent connection between pleasure and grief. And I was thinking of it, in one way, touching into the pleasure brings up the grief, but it’s also what can bring healing to the grief.

It’s what enables us to be with it. So it’s like a both and, all encompassing sort of situation and yeah, I’ve, it’s Become a more regular part of my practice. I would say since the maiden to mother journey movement, pleasure embodiment, like all of those things have just become like daily parts of my practice and ways that it wasn’t because I’m like, Oh, I like, I need this.

I have to have this in order to continue, the direction that I would like to go in. if I want to be in the grief, I have to have the pleasure to. 

Kalah: Yes. And see how that’s like a reclamation of agency right there, which is like a critical pillar for freedom. Yeah. Yeah. It’s there’s so many layers and it’s so multidimensional, but it really, it’s almost like there’s this inherent genius that lives inside of our bodies.

And if we just shut up for two seconds. We just stopped talking, then this genius is allowed to arise and what happens then is, really what I think most freedom fighters have been fighting for a very long time and screaming Hey, listen, if you follow this thread line, I promise.

I promise that you will make it through. so it’s time, I think, to also just start listening to these people. I think, it’s time to start listening to Indigenous people, Black queer folks,it’s just time.

Fast. Listening to that and also listening to the genius of your body. Yeah. 

Cassie: Yeah, definitely. I would love to hear, just any offerings that you might have for titrating into this, because I know one thing that I noticed as somebody who did not have a really prominent pleasure practice. That it does require some titration, like there needs to be,because like you said, there are so many layers, it’s so connected to grief.

So what are some ways to slowly move into that and bring it to the forefront and one’s practice. 

Kalah: Yeah, yes, this is so important. So I am like, trauma informed. I’m not a trauma specialist, but I’m a trauma informed coach. And what that means to me is that I understand, the workings of trauma and how it exists in the body.

And When we are healing trauma, the word titration is thrown around a lot and it’s so critical and it basically means that there’s this slow drip over time of discharging that trauma out of the body. So releasing the trauma, actually, it doesn’t happen in one moment, one big cataclysmic moment, because if it did, it would retraumatize the nervous system and put us back to where we started.

And so we titrate. The same goes for intake. So when we are, let’s say, intaking,we need hydration and we’re hooked up to an IV. That hydration, that water and those, all those you know, nutrients are coming out, but they’re dripping and they’re going very slowly. That’s why it takes an hour up to an hour to rehydrate the body, right?

Because it takes, that slow titrated, experience for the body to actually uptake the hydration. So it’s the same with the pleasure. You can’t just, bombard yourself with, let’s say, I don’t know, you don’t have a pleasure practice at all, and then you just, go to some sort of, huge orgy or something, off the bat, you know, like, this is what I’m going to do, it could be not safe.

so I recommend, really enjoying the slowness. It’s like I see honey, like I get a visual of honey dripping from the comb and like how slowly and how delicious that is. Like my mouth is watering just thinking about that image. And so there’s so many different practices. I’ll name a few.

One is really working with the element of water. And so to me, water is pleasure central. I don’t know. There’s just so much about water. it holds and stores memory. we’re like 70% water. there’s a lot of it. With water and frequency and working with that element that I just love.

I also love how versatile water is. It can be a solid, a liquid and a gas. it’s incredible element. So bathing is like a big practice of mine. I know not everyone has access to a bathtub, so it’s not necessarily that you need to have access to a bathtub. But if you do, I highly recommend bathing.

But it’s more about the ritual around water. So whether it’s bathing, showering, walking to a body of water, whether that body of water is a lake, a stream, an ocean, a fountain in the middle of a city, right? Really finding water. access. It could also even just be a glass of water and you’re going to intentionally be with the water.

So in whatever way that means to you, whether that’s getting into the water, whether that’s getting around water, whether that’s ingesting water, you’re going to intentionally be with the water and you’re going to be with the water for as long as you want. So this is also what’s great about pleasure practice is that this is about what you want.

This is about what you need. So if you need five minutes, great. If you need five hours, great. And I recommend really aiming for what it is that you need. Now, it might take several months to get to a five hour intentional practice with water, right? what does that even entail? But what if we got curious with our own selves?

And this is where the original innocence comes in, because if we think about children, they’re not questioning Oh my God, do I have enough time? Or what am I going to do? Am I going to get bored? Oh, this might not work for me. They literally just go straight in to the practice of play. boom, no, no thoughts, no questions or nothing.

They are just ready. So we all have that. Become from that. We were all Children at one point in our lives and regardless of our upbringing and our household circumstances, because I definitely lived in one that was quite chaotic and tumultuous as well. So I understand that as well. I do know that the more work I do and remembering him.

That child like piece, I can find her and she is very alive and she is very well and she is very much ready to play and very much ready to explore. And so this is where I invite you to get crafty and creative and. Enjoy your time. You can put different things like in the water. Like I do a lot of ritual with just like putting stuff in the water, like flowers or crystals or oils or really anything.

Or if I’m walking along a stream and I find different rocks or I’m on the beach and I find different shells, I’ll go to the water and return those to the water. a lot of my practices are sparked by spontaneity and in intuition. And so like in the moment, it’s what am I intuitively craving? What am I intuitively wanting or desiring?

And can I actualize that for myself? It might be like, oh, I’m like. Walking down the beach and I like intuitively want to go and just immerse myself in the water. Okay, I’m gonna go do that. Or maybe I don’t want to go in the water that day and I want to sit on the edge and I want to just listen to the water.

Okay, I’m gonna do that. What do I hear from the water? All of this is ritual, and all of it is true, especially when it’s integrous to you. So that’s what I invite people to, is like their own innate knowing. I know, I like to give a little bit of structure and give people examples, but at the same time, it’s like we get to co create this.

I’m not, I don’t have the magic key. I’m human here with you. Exploring and figuring things out as I go, and I just invite all of us to have that courage to really trust ourselves again.

Cassie: Yes, I love that. You brought it back to the, honoring our inherent wisdom around pleasure. And that’s certainly what I’ve noticed. and especially with the slowness, what I’ve been finding for me is that The pleasure lives in the slowness and that when I can be in when I can pace myself on that way, the pleasure, the intuitions around experiencing sensory pleasure come in almost automatically, I’ll catch myself just walking outside and, just.

Bask in the sunlight and feel the sun on my skin and hear the sounds of the birds and just melt into the pleasure of it. And it’s like without the slowness, I can’t find that. So it’s been, for me, it’s been really pleasurable and just exciting and playful to have those moments just come in without forcing.

It’s just because my pace has slowed down. and you’re speaking my language with the elements. I love working with the elements. And water is, It’s such a fun one to work with. Yeah. 

Kalah: And fire can be great, like sunbathing, tending to a fire, lighting a candle, getting into a sauna, getting a hot water bottle, putting it at your feet, and like on a cold day.

There’s so many aspects of, Engagement, and it’s really it’s very sensorial. So it’s coming back to the body. And so really anything that’s going to activate the senses and be a pleasure practice. It’s that’s the thread line is that we’re awakening to sensation. and in that, I think we are awakening to our lives and that’s where we get to.

Kind of die and be reborn again, not to be sound like. Super like culty or something, but like to, to really shed those layers of, numbness, I’d say, and disassociation that are great, intelligent coping mechanisms for the environments in which we’ve been born into. So I’m not denying the intelligence of, numbing because that in and of itself has safeguarded a lot of our.

a lot of our psychology for a long time, but as we release into new ways of being with each other, and as we collectively start to heal, we’re going to have to shift out of, states of disassociation and start to stay in the body. And then over time, there’s actually really great practice around conscious numbing, which Adrian Marie Brown talks about a lot, too.

Which basically gives us those moments of reprieve, Hey, you know what, I’m going to Netflix and chill and just zone out for two hours, and that’s totally, I think also very healthy too. So it’s not to say that

one is better than the other, or we’re in some sort of place. That’s not okay. It’s to say all of it is welcome. And when we welcome all of it, then we get. To be free. there’s no, we don’t have to compartmentalize so much. We don’t have

to, like, how has the tapestry of our bodies been colonized? Like, how has the tapestry of our sensation? been, compartmentalized, like divided and conquered and almost there’s like a dictator inside of at least there was inside of me, this dictator said,this is only permissible under certain circumstances and certain ways.

And if it’s not that, then that doesn’t come out. And there was a lot of regulation and rules going on in terms of like, when I was allowed to feel something and when I wasn’t. And to basically say, no, I have full permission to feel my experiences in any given moment. to have sensation run through my body.

It is my birthright. To have access to my bodily autonomy and to make choice from a space of feeling and sensation as opposed to a space of logic, really reframes and reshapes the entire experience of your life. So to me,it’s, it’s a power move. It’s a big power move to reincorporate pleasure.

Cassie: Absolutely. Yeah, I really resonate with what you said about that, the inner dictator, because I’ve certainly, I’m sure it’ll be a lifetime of unraveling that, but the inner dialogue is sometimes I don’t have time, I think you mentioned that I don’t have time for this, I need to be productive, all of those things that capitalism, patriarchy, tell us that we, I can’t do this because I need to be doing this.

and I’m at the part of it where there’s a lot of, okay, let’s pause, let’s, is this truth or is this? the inner dictator. I like that I have a name for it now. I’m going to borrow that if that’s okay. My inner dictator that’s trying to keep me from pleasure because I’m not about it anymore.

I’m ready to cut ties with them. 

Kalah: yes. so many aspects that have tried to keep us safe and that’s why it’s like there I have compassion because these are all coping strategies under pretty severe conditions, you know, we’re talking about. Stomach oppression and you know how our bodies have adapted to those environments.

And so I have a lot of compassion for the inner dictator. And at the same time, my pleasure is not their domain. That’s not the domain dictator. That’s not where they rest in my body anymore. 

Cassie: Absolutely. I don’t want to keep you for too long, so I’m just going to ask you a couple more questions before we wrap up.

but when those, because I, you know, I think about, I know for me, that inner dictator, and like we’ve already mentioned, grief comes up in so many ways, but I know for me, I have had a lot of grief as well around that inner dictator, and Remembering that I do, get to experience pleasure and I get to decide when and how I experience pleasure.

And then I will, sometimes I can go into that spiral of, Oh, I, of either feeling bad about it or feeling bad about how much I’ve missed out because I listened to the inner dictator for so long. So handling when those, griefs arise of. ways to be with them, address them, move with them, as they arise.

Kalah: Yeah. I’ve said this before on another podcast and I’ll just say it again, when I hit these moments of resistance and, or let’s say challenge when there’s shame or guilt that comes up and I start to grieve and I start to get angry and I start to get just really upset about the years that were lost.

I ask myself this question, what is the most loving thing I could do next? And so bell hooks talks about so brilliantly talks about, what it takes to step into a culture of love, what it takes to walk into a love ethic and embody that in our relations. with ourselves and with our communities.

And I think it, it takes asking questions like that in moments of despair. It takes asking the question, what is the most loving thing I can do next to take care of this grief, to take care of this grieving body. Sometimes that’s lying down. Sometimes that’s making a cup of tea. Sometimes that’s taking a walk.

Sometimes that’s brushing your teeth. Sometimes that’s, not brushing your teeth. like it really can be a very simple. exchange of realism, there’s this, sobriety, that comes online, like you sober up when you’re in the middle of this grief and you’re Whoa, like my capacity right now is not of the expectation of what patriarchy or capitalism or these oppressive societies would even deem as like.

normal, whatever you want to call these like really distorted views of how we’re supposed to be showing up as humans. And if we lovingly can slow down and ask these questions and take the next best step towards love, regardless of what that is. I think that we are starting to build cultures of care.

Beyond what we know now when we’re starting to step into unconditional loving space with ourselves and then have more capacity to do that with others. yeah, there’s so much that I think people really need to learn about how to hold space for both pleasure and grief. They’re very similar in the ways in which we hold space for both of those beautiful human attributes.

And it is one that is incredibly loving, incredibly slow and incredibly like non judgmental. It’s just okay, I got to release the control and I got to let go. Otherwise, this is going to consume me. And then I will have lost myself again. And I want to make sure that I stay with myself as much as I can.

in the sensation of all of my life experiences. 

Cassie: Beautiful. I love that invitation. Thank you. as I shared with you, interviews are new to my podcast, so I’m playing around with some sort of a closing question. And though you might’ve already answered this, I would just love to hear, what right now is, bringing you back to your innate wholeness.

Kalah: Gosh, so much. I’m like, Oh God, there’s like a million things that are bringing me back to my wholeness. This is my Gemini rising here. Ooh, I got like 20 million things going on at once. But I think, the first thing that came to me and what’s really been apparent is, the skill of letting go and the skill of saying no.

And how that actually brings me into such deep states of satisfaction and satiation and wholeness. So I am like a genius at the yes, right? that’s what I teach people. I teach people the yes. Like, how do I have you screaming? yes. Like I can probably get you there pretty well. And what I’ve learned though, is that yes, doesn’t just come out of nowhere.

That our no’s are really deep, nourishing, loving. No thank you’s are shaping our yeses. They’re giving definition to our yeses. So it creates this really dynamic partnership. And what I’m experiencing in my life is that as I really honor my own capacity and my own limitations. Which is like a really hard concept for a pleasure, a pleasury stuff.

I’m like, wait, there’s limits.

This is boundless. but to really say listen, this is my capacity. This is where I’m at. And I’m going to have to bow out of this, opportunity or social event or whatever it may be. And really. Safeguard that capacity. I’ve learned that these deep wells of satiation and satisfaction, are experienced.

I’m like, wow. Okay. So the world didn’t implode by me saying no. And what actually became much clearer was like, My definitive yes, and the things that I actually do have capacity for not only capacity but also like deep longing for. and I think that’s just a maturation process, I’m 38, which I feel like is very young.

I feel like talk to me when I’m 60. This podcast is going to be, this interview is going to be great. but I do, I feel very young and I feel that I’m still in deep maturation processes that will. Start to come to light even more and more as I grow into my maturity, and I’m really looking forward to that.

And there’s this real beauty to the boundary work that comes with pleasure. And so that’s been really tantalizing. 

Cassie: I love that and I love your description of your no’s sort of chiseling and carving out what your yeses are like bringing them. Even more fully to life. That’s a really beautiful visual.

Oh, Kayla, I’m so grateful to know you and to have worked with you and for all of the beauty and wisdom you shared with us here. Thank you so much for, for showing up and sharing. And I would just love for you to share, where people can find you, where people can work with you, the ways that they can work with you.

Kalah: Of course. Yeah. So I have my website, which is in pleasure. We trust dot com as well as my instagram at Kayla dot hill. And yeah, there’s lots of fun musings going on there. I’m getting braver shining my light. And so I’ll have more things coming, and always feel free to reach out to me. I love connection.

I’m happy for you to slip into my DMs, honestly, slip into my DMs and ask me out. I’ll probably say yes. I’m such a flirt. I love flirting. I love getting to know people. I’m very curious. And so yeah, I’m always available for a chat, and to connect and yeah, there’s many ways I work with individual clients, privately online and also in person and I do combo packs with that too.

So we’ll have some things online, some things in person. And then I also host group experiences and events of the erotic nature. I’m very ceremonial, very conscious, and intentional. space for going a little deeper into exploring, sensual touch and erotic exploration. So really excited about all those things.

Cassie: Yeah. Yes. Some of those are piquing my interest. I didn’t know about the group. Work that you did. That’s exciting. and I will, of course, I will have all of your links and everything and the show notes so people can find you easily and connect. Wonderful. Thank you again so much, Kayla. 

Kalah: Thank you, Cassie.

My pleasure. 

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About Cassie

Cassie Uhl is the author of five books and two card decks, an artist, intuitive energy healer, and death doula. Her lineage and practices are rooted in pagan earth-based spiritual practices of Northern Europe. She approaches her work and clients with trauma-informed support through all phases of life. She currently resides on the land of the Myaamia people in so-called Indiana of the US.