When I was 21, in the passing of the Millennium, I left the land of my childhood, the land of Israel, and wandered back to my birth country, the United States.
I replaced the white stones of Jerusalem’s with the red bricks of Boston, where I lived for ten years. As normativity goes, I earned my degrees, met my partner for life, got married and brought twins into the world.
I attended Lesley University, Cambridge, MA, and earned a B.S. and then and M.Ed. in special education. During my time in the college, I enjoyed vast and broad-minded experiences. Lesley back then was a women-only college, with a powerful human rights focus that still remains today. I undertook a variety of training, volunteer opportunities, and leadership roles, and received insurmountable advice and guidance. I grew professionally and personally and created myself anew, a theme that would follow me for many years to come.
At the end of my college degree, I started working as a teacher in a public school in Boston. I was a classroom teacher in the third grade, consisting of students with challenging backgrounds, exhibiting behavioral, academic and emotional difficulties. I was in that program for two years, an experience that was life changing. For me, it was a dream come true, and one of the biggest challenges in my life, both professionally and emotionally. I experienced violence, criticism, lack of success, yet alongside the intense emotions and endless frustration, I learned to balance between capabilities, knowledge and freedom of choice as a means to empowerment.
After I got married and a honeymoon in Papua New Guinea, with the intent to get pregnant shortly after, I decided it was not safe for me to return to that program, knowing that lack of support was abound. I found a variety of professional opportunity to continue my role as an educator. In addition, I started volunteering on the Planned Parenthood hotline, providing information and referrals on sexuality matters.
I spent four wonderful and challenging years volunteering on the hotline. Once a week, every Mondays I would bring my budding babies to my mother, the best babysitter grandkids can have. I spent my time answering calls, mostly from women and girls who had unplanned pregnancy and were seeking support and advice. We covered a variety of topics, from abortion and sexually transmitted infections, to relationship violence, parents, and school. They all called searching for solutions that would provide them the freedom to choose what is right and healthy. Yet, even then I realized that healthy sexuality is not merely the absence of disease, infections and unplanned pregnancy. Healthy sexuality must be more than that.
At this same time, I produced private parties for women and couples to sale and market sex accessories. Basically, I sold sex toys in your living room. OMG, so much fun! I spent my night with women’s in a room full of laughter and celebration. It really enjoyed doing what I was doing, but very quickly I realized the lack of basic knowledge about sexuality these. Orgasms, consent, the right to pleasure, choices within relationships, fun sex… these were topics that they simply were not aware of. Of course, here and there I found a gem that understood me and the depth of female sexual pleasure, but for the most part, women drank up what I have to serve, relishing in the information and connecting to the desire buried deep inside of them. I felt like I had a magic wand and with a simple flick of the wrist covered them with fairy dust of pleasure awareness.
Volunteering on the hotline to prevent unhealthy choices, and selling sex toys as a means to improve personal pleasure, taught me a whole bunch about the vast scope of healthy sexuality. These experiences, side-by-side, ignited my desire to explore and engage in healthy sexuality as a profession. I started to ask myself, and other, what is healthy sexuality? Is it merely the absence of disease transmitted by sexual intercourse and unwanted pregnancies? Is healthy sexuality associated with pleasure? Healthy relationship? Choice? How do you combine pleasure, intimacy, relationships, and freedom of choice to create a broad concept of healthy sexuality?
So I began a strong a journey of significant discovery, which has become my life adventure. Yet, life was not so simple. When my twins were one year old, due to medical complication and a congenital hole in my heart, I suffered a stroke. It still amazes me what one small body can succumb to in this life. After the stroke I had open heart surgery to fix the hole. Suddenly, everything took on a different meaning. They say that health is everything? You bet it is! And it is the same with sexuality. I discovered that when I experience healthy sexuality in my life, I enjoy a balance in all circles of my life – between my family, in all of my relationships, in my work load, and overall emotional health. My strong realization to uphold my right to pleasure is not something I wanted to keep for myself. I sought to branch out and be part of social change.
As strong as my calling to teach in Boston Public School, such was the calling to return to Israel and raise my children in my home land. My non-Jewish partner agreed to the relocation without any opposition and with a strong desire to do so as well. We both saw it as an opportunity to bring our children to a land of culture, warmth, and fabulous beaches, and to bring us closer together as a family.
In 2011 when I came to Israel, I signed up for continuing education program in the Israeli Family Planning Association (part of the International Planned Parenthood Association). My goal was to become certified sex educator. Throughout the program, I studied the dimensions psychology, physiology, and sociology related to sexuality. I increased my understanding to the inhibitions, vulnerability and challenges people experience. I identified myself as a feminist and social activist in the fight against violence against women. I also finally had the deep self-discovery that I am a bisexual, polyamorous, queer.
After two years of study and hours of group facilitation, I discovered my destiny; to create You Got Choices – a platform that brings choice education and tools of empowerment to individuals and various social circles with the intent to promote the sensuality, pleasure, and positive well-being.
My toolbox expands constantly, with added knowledge, skills experience in leading Listening Circles, guided meditation, and leadership that permeate every action I take. I continued my advanced studies in the field of human sexuality and functional diversity and in that way joined my earlier passion in special education and my life long journey to promote healthy sexuality. I now seek to become a sexual therapist, kink-aware professional, focused on functional diversity and a general all-around kick-ass activist.
My inner dialogue “What is healthy sexuality?” still continues. As a student of life, I know that there is not one clear answer. Continuously searching for the truth, I generate opportunities to share insights and listen to others.
For now, like many other in the profession, I believe that healthy sexuality is not just sex. I believe that sexuality is the very essence of the life we lived. It is our discourse with our bodies, the passion that drives us to create and connect, the motivation to enjoy life, and the way we make our choices. And with that said, I believe that every person of any age, caste, gender, orientation, and ability, has the right to pleasure.
I feel that it is my calling to bring this to any mind that wishes to internalize this endeavor.