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Paradoxes of Pleasure: How Earth and Salt Came Into Being

Updated: 4 days ago

The Paradoxes of Pleasure series is one part origin store, one part personal reflection, and many parts "wow, wtf!" This is the introduction to the series.


 

Earth and Salt, as a concept and a business, came into the world in the way that many good things do - with pain and confusion, grinding through the gruesome process of transformation, and then breakthrough. Over a three year span I went through, well, some shit, that then ultimately led to the inspiration and motivation to create Earth and Salt.


There were three main challenges that all came together at the same time, and compounded each other. The first challenge was a repeatedly misdiagnosed illness that left me with pain with sex, increased body image issues, and a renewed distrust of my body. The second challenge, which proved even more impactful, was my desire to become non-monogamous with my long-time partner. And the third compounding challenge, so well known by many of us, was a total disillusionment with working in the corporate world.


 

These years come back to me as distinct memories . . .


Sitting in still terror in my therapist’s office as I let myself fully experience many emotions for the first time.


Avoiding working at my desk at my corporate job in order to hide my eyes that were red and raw from crying.


The long, ugly, necessary night when I told my partner I wanted to have sex with another man.


My doctor, the fourth one I’d seen, refusing to offer me any other type of medical treatment until I tried the one she insisted on, even though I knew it wouldn’t work (and it didn’t).


Eating dinner alone in bed in a New York City hotel room, confused and a bit melancholy, after having disappointing sex with the man who I had opened my relationship for.


Grabbing a coffee at a cafe in Burlington, VT, while at an artist residency and starting a flirtation with a barista that would bring me back to Burlington for enough visits to start falling for the town (different story with the man . . .).


And the crescendo moment; lying on a bed a few years later in a hotel room in Burlington, my partner still at my side, looking for a fun adult store to go to while we were visiting town. I didn’t find one that looked remotely welcoming or exciting, and I had the thought . . .


I should build that store.


I should, will, build that store. That business. That business where I won’t be given only one, thin, shallow, boring version of what sexiness is. Where I won’t feel ashamed for having body image issues, or illness-induced sexual issues. Where I won’t feel alone, or weird. And I won’t have to hide who I am or what I think.


 

I had already dug into the healing process through these years (seeking out a sex therapist, doing The Work to heal myself, finding a doctor who could finally help me, asking question after question, . . .), but I doubled down at this point; podcasts, books, articles, starting a sex educator certification.


And wow, there’s nothing like learning to make you even more confused sometimes. Authentic intimacy requires space? Joy is not easy? Enjoying my body with others requires enjoying it by myself first?


What? How?


And then, as it so often happened in those days, I listened to . . . A PODCAST. There were Brené Brown and Esther Perel, two authors and experts that I revere, talking about paradox in relationships. And through their conversation, the concept became apparent; paradox is inherent in sex and relationships.


Paradox, as I had previously thought, was not a sign of something being wrong; experiencing paradox is simply a sign that I am alive.

So I wanted to share with you a few paradoxes of pleasure and relationship that I have experienced in the last few years, which have been foundational for me and have greatly informed Earth and Salt. As with all things I do with this business, I want to normalize experiences for you all so that you know you are not alone. And so that I, too, know that I am not alone.


So here we go; let’s start with The Big D.

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