Time: 42:07 minutes
Jessy: So, we’re recording now. So, welcome to this interview with the gorgeous Anna Samson. I’ve known you Anna for, Oh my gosh, eight, nine years now.
Anna: A long time.
Jessy: A long time yeah. We first met through I think, was it Free Range Humans?
Anna: Yes, we were breaking free.
Jessy: We were breaking free from the rat race life, and trying to set our own lives and businesses up, weren
Jessy: We’re still on that wonderful path, aren’t we? The roller coaster that it is but with the joys and wonderfulness that comes from it. And I feel so grateful. And I always say this to you and get all gushy. but so grateful to have you in my life as a friend, mentor, business help and everything. Anna you do amazing work on sexuality and desire and your latest book Desire Lines, oh, gosh, I absolutely adore and love. And I came across this cheesy meme or whatever you want to call it. And it said, “I don’t believe in best friends anymore. I have people who have keys to different parts of me” and I immediately thought of you because I think you have unlocked such a big part of my sexuality and that side of me. So, I’m just forever grateful for that. I think you encouraged, you ran some erotic writing courses and I did a few of those with you which was fantastic. And we’ve had so many fantastic conversations about desire and sexuality and things like that. And that ties in so well with A Wild Within because as kind of humans and animals, sexuality is a huge part of kind of being alive I think. I guess the ultimate kind of intention is to reproduce isn’t it and keep the species going. But sexuality in itself, it’s a huge untapped, unseen not looked at shushed conversation, isn’t it? But anyway, So, this is the wonderful Anna, did you want to give a short introduction about yourself? Because I’m going to ramble and get really gushy.
Anna: Well, first of all, it’s so lovely to be here talking with you. And I’m always delighted to spend any time with you. And I’m also always delighted to have opportunities to talk about sexuality and desire and pleasure and because as you say, a lot of these things are shushed. And so, to actually have a space where it’s welcome, and to be able to talk to other people about it is a real gift for me. And you’re just talking about sexuality and, for me, sexual energy is a big part of our creativity. So, it’s not just about reproduction, but it’s about that flow of creative energy and how we can notice it, appreciate it, work with it, enjoy it, have pleasure with it, is really important, but just to backtrack a bit. So, when Jessy and I first met, I was running a blog called The Lady Garden Project and that was kind of my place space to talk about things related to women’s sexuality. And as part of that, I was also writing erotica and that’s sort of what led on to sharing opportunities to play with erotic writing and just i guess, to even put that out there as an option for women to do for their own pleasure, even if they didn’t want to share it with anyone else or anything like that. And my background is that I also used to work as a sexual surrogate partner. So, I’ve got training and experience of working with the broad term of conscious sexuality. I’m a writer who tends to really enjoy writing erotica. So, that’s kind of like that my first port of call, but then more recently, I also wrote Desire Lines, which was kind of a bringing all of these things together. So, some of the things I thought about on The Lady Garden Project, some of the things that learned through my work in the field, some of the Things that I brought in through my erotic writing. And the point I’m at now, is really wanting to have more of these conversations. Because for me, I can only ever really know and understand my own experiences but the more I talk to people, the more I appreciate just how unique each of our paths with this aspect of us is and are and continue to be. And it’s lovely, what you said about being a key to open up that part, because so often, it’s the part that kind of gets put to one side, or conversely can feel very pressured because of all the images and messages we get bombarded with. So, for me, and I’m sure this will be the recurring theme but part of my way of self-part of my instinctive self is to find out what it means to me. And to create space for other women, predominantly to find out what it means to them.
Jessy: And I love how you are, kind of almost like taking me out of the shadows. It is something intimate that we do behind closed doors, but it doesn’t mean that we can’t have those conversations. So, it’s the same like with mental health or menstruation and menopause, all these things, death even. All these things that we kind of hide, our taboo subjects. Oh, cats around now you gonna join us? But yeah, and just hearing other people’s stories, and they have powerful and empowering as well, gosh.
Jessy: And I don’t know if you can see but I’ve got desire lines on my shelves. [Inaudible at 06:51 to 06:56]. I’ll get out but I’m kind of intertwined with Alfie, Alfie’s under my desk.
Anna: Here’s one I made earlier
Jessy: Oh, and I absolutely love Desire Lines because, yes is erotica in there, which, of course you’ve beautifully written it. What’s it? 50 shades have got nothing on you at all. I read those, I was like, this is boring you need Anna’s book. But you also write about the sexuality side of things in the sensual side, but with so much love and compassion, that’s the bit that really jumps out at me with any of your work. It’s just that gentleness and the caring and the love that goes around it. And I think that’s so important, isn’t it?
Anna: Thank you, it’s really lovely that you say that because I do think, as well as the taboos around sexuality, there’s quite a lot of Mmm, I said the word pressure earlier, but there’s quite a lot of almost like harshness that comes with it. So, looking sexy means looking a certain way or doing certain things. And at the core of it, is for me like intimacy and sexuality is about connection. And it’s about sharing a part of me with someone because I want to, I want to have that connection with them. And that ultimately, yeah it probably does come from my heart. My loins kind of point me in the right direction sometimes. But ultimately is a heart connection and don’t think sexuality has to be, i can’t even take the word, it’s like it’s very packaged often, isn’t it? I’m thinking of images of PVC clad women or I don’t know women and certain types of lingerie and all that kind of thing. But when we boil it right down, it’s about people being naked and naked in emotions as well as naked in body.
Jessy: Yeah, I love that.
Anna: And we don’t need or want to do that with lots of people or many people, all people, but we can choose the people we do that with and so, i guess I just, that’s my take on it. So, maybe that’s what comes through in terms of how I experience sexuality and this sexual energy. Of course, it can also be raw and passionate and hot and horny and wild and all of those other things. That’s the best.
Jessy: That’s the best. I just jumped in there.
Anna: And I’m not advocating for always candles and soft music and lovemaking. But there’s place for all of it. But ultimately it has to be what feels right for those people at that time, without the pressure and influence of what’s round about it.
Jessy: And I love what you say about that kind of, yes, you’re physically naked, but also emotionally and that really gives me a feeling of having to face yourself. Like that faith in yourself trusting your instincts, like knowing what you want, almost like identifying what your needs are, meeting those needs and sexuality, like you say, yes, it can be gentle, candlelit lovemaking, or that kind of the wild side of it. And again, there’s that spectrum that I think maybe a lot of people hold to do. And we don’t really have those conversations. Because, like, I don’t know, even I mean, I think now it’s a bit more of an open conversation but there’s a lot of secrecy around it as well. But actually, there’s such a spectrum, it’s like, yeah, let’s talk about it. What are all these different things we can do and ways to enjoy ourselves and that the play element, which is so important, as well.
Anna: Absolutely, we were talking earlier about how, like, for me, a lot of the time that I spend in sexual scenarios is my grown-up playtime. That’s my playground, it is playful and it is play for me. And I think the other thing kind of aligned to that is that when we do have opportunities to talk about it, sometimes it’s in like a playful or an expressive way, or if we’re sharing pictures of people that we fancy, or, erotic stories and all that kind of thing. And sometimes what people need is a space to talk about what’s difficult for them when it comes to their sexuality.
Anna: Even like physical sexual health problems or emotion, issues with emotional intimacy which we all experienced. Because we’re all, you know vulnerability is like that universal experience isn’t it? When we feel vulnerable, when we feel exposed, and so to be able to share those moments with ourselves first and foremost. Because I don’t think sex is just something between two people, I think I can have sex with myself.
Jessy: Or as many people choose.
Anna: But yeah, it’s such a complex topic. And there’s so many places to go with it. And we’re just kind of at the tip of the iceberg in terms of how those conversations are shared and spoken about within relationships, and also kind of in the broader media. So, that was partly why I wanted to write Desire Lines, because I just wanted to give another perspective, it’s my perspective. So, there’s still bias and it’s still subjective, and all that kind of thing, but it’s another perspective to add to the mix.
Jessy: Yes. And I love you share your journey so beautifully in in Desire Lines. But again, like you say, love is the theme that that that is really infused in that book. And I think a lot of the time when people talk about sex and things, people can shy away from it because it’s like, oh, it’s dirty or it’s harsh. There’s all those negative connotations that can come with that subject, but I think you do it so beautifully. I feel so blessed that that you have been my mentor in this field because I think, what’s the classic thing that people go look at porn or things like that, so they’re not very good examples out there. And I think your example is a very loving way of telling people, no there’s other ways of doing this it’s. Nothing against monogamous, oh, I said it, I usually get tongue tied with that, relationships. You can be polyamorous, there’s so many opportunities like you say, but it doesn’t have to be seedy or dirty or and negative.
Anna: And it basically comes down to choice, to feel that you’re in a, and to know that you’re in a position of choice and to choose those aspects which light you up, which make you feel expansive, which bring you pleasure, which are infused with love, which feel good for you. You know sex is, it’s about pleasure and feeling good. And so, if we’re doing things or being in a way that doesn’t feel good for us, we need to clock that and decide what we’re going to do with that.
Jessy: So again, it’s that real connection with yourself and really listening to the instincts and that,
Jessy: Primal urges and.
Anna: Yeah, and I think often one of the issues for many of us myself included is that, in a sexual situation we can end up very in our heads. And we’re not in our bodies, we’re not in our emotions, we’re in our heads, we’re thinking, like, oh, what’s happening? Is this going to happen? Is that going to happen? How do I look? How do i feel? Or, thinking about have I put the washing or whatever it is.
Jessy: Oh, that’s when the sex is really good, you think of the washing.
Anna: But we can end up very much in our heads, but when we bring in money into the body, and bring it back into really tuning into your instinct and your intuition, and what you need and want in that moment. And then being able to communicate that and negotiate that If you’re with another person. That’s good sex in my book, yeah.
Jessy: Oh, definitely and that’s so true. Because essentially, were always in our heads, aren’t we? And I think sex and that kind of painful, enjoyable side of things, we need to experience that from our bodies really, to kind of give it its full, well give it the full stage really. But it’s so true, because we’re so, almost brainwashed to always be our heads, aren’t we? And yeah, sort of just that ability to just go into our bodies and then it makes me think of mindfulness as well. You’re engaging all your senses in. I’m getting Tongue Tied now, Senses in what you’re doing.
Anna: Yeah, and being present in the moment, you know, that for me is like the core of intimacy, is when I choose to be present to that moment, and fully experienced it and it is a choice. And does require consent, and it does require boundaries, and all of those kinds of things. It’s the core of intimacy.
Jessy: Yeah, I love that. But you’ve been on quite a journey. And I can just imagine the conditions and the judgments and kind of everything that’s that you’ve experienced from society. What have your process been to kind of let go of those, kind of almost like what society wants you to do sexually and really trusting yourself and honoring your needs and your voice. How have you kind of let go of all that?
Anna: I mean, it’s definitely an ongoing thing. I don’t think I’ve kind of reached the destination. I’m 47 now, so I’ve had quite a few years of life experience to try things, to find out if they worked for me, to learn from my mistakes, that kind of thing. I think I kind of had an advantage from the offset, because this was always important to me. So, if it hadn’t been important, then I may have taken very different paths. But I don’t know why, like, why it’s always been so important. I certainly wasn’t brought up in a way that made sex and sexuality important. I identified as lesbian when I was 15 and I guess part of a being different and part of not seeing myself reflected in mainstream media meant that I ended up asking a lot of questions of myself and going off to find the answers. So, I think those things were actually advantages for me because they kind of helped set me on a path where I wanted to find out what my sexuality was and how I wanted to explore and express that. And I have been on journeys of having difficulty having orgasms, and having sexual health problems, and different issues in relationships, and all those things which I guess all that life experience then gives me an opportunity to reflect on what’s for me and what’s not for me. And I’m quite stubborn and determined with things like this, if there’s something I’m curious about, I will pursue it, I will find out about it. So, how we each experience and express our sexuality is something that I’m endlessly curious about, like, I just, it fascinates me. So, I keep exploring, I keep looking for new ways to, to understand and to learn and to experience. So, I think a lot of it has to be experiential, it’s not all good, but lots of different ways to explore. I think I’m an explorer, maybe that’s it.
Jessy: I think so definitely, Sexual Explorer.
Anna: I like that.
Jessy: But also, that determination. I think determination and motivation to be like, no, this is, this is what’s happening with me, I want to know more. And then I’m sure at the time, the discrimination, the mistake, society’s objections to who you are, as a person must have been quite huge. And, but to be able to stay true to yourself, that itself is amazing.
Anna: Yeah, and I think the converse of that is by the time I left home and went to university when I was 19, I found another group of women to hang out with, to be friends with who became like my family. So, we shared experiences as well. So, it was never just me out there on my own having forge a path. I’ve always been able to, thankfully, been able to find people who either get me or who are open to also exploring their own paths. And there is like, there’s a bonding there but there’s also something that brings us together over that as well, I think.
Jessy: I love that. And it’s like through connection and that almost village feeling that you feel stronger in a way, stronger together type of thing.
Anna: Yeah, exactly.
Jessy: Oh, I love that so much, that is fantastic. So, what kind of, so I’m looking at my questions here and I’ve come to thinking, oh I’ve not asked any of these. Who do you feel has kind of influenced you or supported you in your choices and on your journey?
Anna: I’ve been so fortunate. So, I am a big fan of books. A lot of my early learning and exploring was all done through books, I was living in Manchester, they had a liberal Council, which had lots of great books in the local library, there was a women’s bookshop, there was a gay and lesbian bookshop. I could go to books to find support, to find information, to find new perspectives to not feel alone. And again, this is partly why I write because for me, books, were such an important and continue to be such an important part of how I grow through life. And then alongside that, I was really fortunate to meet some amazing people, friends, partners, counselors. People who I guess, have given me space to not always talk about it, because I’ve not always been that comfortable talking about this stuff. But even just to know that, all of me was welcome. So, yeah, I wouldn’t name people specifically, but there have been many, many, many, and that excites me, knowing that there are kindred spirits or other people in this world who don’t have to be the same as me, of course, but for whom this is also important. They’re also curious, they also want to create space for this kind of thing, these kinds of conversations, this kind of exploring experience. But I still go back to books, it’s funny, I’ve still got a pile of books on my shelf, always of people that I want to learn from and whose perspectives have insights for me.
Jessy: And there is just something so magical about books. I mean, I know when I’ve gone and done something things of, I’ve actually had Desire lines with me because it’s like, I’ve got Ann in my pocket kind of feeling.
Anna: There’s a thought.
Jessy: Yeah, get a little Anna in your pocket.
Anna: Yeah, but absolutely, words have power and being able to share our written words as well.
Jessy: Yeah, definitely. And I love, like how you say, all parts of me are accepted. And that in itself is a huge, huge thing just for us to except for parts of us and kind of accept that in other people as well, again, in a society that’s like, No, we’ve got a judge first, that feels like a breath of fresh air, definitely.
Jessy: And I remember.
Anna: We sanitize parts of ourselves, we have to sanitize or censor the parts of us that are seen as too wild, too extreme, too out there, too different, for whatever reason.
Jessy: Yeah exactly, definitely. And I remember when you were writing Desire Lines and you were saying how you had Lilith kind of as your voice in the background, and I must admit biting, release of wild within, I’ve got you there sometimes in the background, and just feeling so blessed that I actually know so many authors through, of course, the unbound writing and, and they are all up on the shelf there. You can’t really see them but just to have that sense of community that actually we aren’t alone, that we can do things kind of together in that way. I just I, love that. And you have honestly opened my eyes to so many kind of different ways of thinking and being and I remember the first time you said to me, “I accept all parts of you.” I just burst out crying, i was like Oh, my God. This is this is what my heart has been wanting to hear.
Anna: Yeah, because you know, I think that is fundamentalism that we want to be welcomed as the individual we are, each of us are, that’s it. And that’s when you get connection. That’s when you get intimacy. And that’s when you get that space to really shine, who you are.
Jessy: Yeah, yeah, I love that, and I love you. Oh, we’re blushing again.
Anna: I know.
Jessy: We’re so good at that. Okay, so how can you then stay true to you, to your inner self, to your true voice, to your wild self, instinctual self, with all the distractions and well just everything society brings?
Anna: Yeah, it’s hard, isn’t it when you know, it’s so easy to be influenced and to particularly around this kind of topic, to feel that there should be some self-censorship going on or to feel vulnerable and exposed and to fear judgment, and to fear that I won’t be welcomed, or all those kinds of things. I’m still working on that, I remember when I published Desire Lines, and I had such a vulnerability hangover. And I just felt so exposed. Because it’s got some of my personal story, there’s quite a lot of my personal story in there. And even my erotic writing that’s exposing as well, because it says something about what turns me on.
Anna: And I remember, just feeling awash with vulnerability, and it subsided, it dissipated over time. And I think sometimes we just have to expect that we will feel vulnerable, that we will feel exposed and that’s okay. But how I manage it, I think it’s that determination again, I think it’s that I can’t not be me. I have had times in my life where i have sacrificed myself, my true self and I have conformed and I have diluted and I still continue to do to an extent. But I think as time goes on, it just becomes less and less of an option for me to not actually say that this is me and to be authentic in that. Yeah, it’s still a work in progress, I think.
Anna: I think you do it absolutely beautifully, though, definitely. And, I felt so grateful that they were such intimate stories in that book because it really gave an insight to you but also that, Oh, yeah, there’s different ways. There isn’t just the mainstream idea that’s sold, there’s different ways of expression of being, of doing, I love all of that.
Anna: Yeah, thank you. And also, those can change over your lifetime. That for me is partly why I continue to explore all of this stuff, because it’s not static. They’re not one-time decisions and choices. We change and our needs change, and our preferences change. So, there’s always something new to discover, and new to explore. And that, to me, is where the playful element comes back in. You know what an adventure.
Jessy: Definitely and just that excitement of possibilities.
Jessy: Oh, fantastic. And you do quite a lot of things to help keep you grounded, like, you’ve got joyful nature, which, you know that connection to nature in itself is ever so powerful and almost…… How do I articulate this? Is connected, Isn’t it? Almost that kind of, the nature side of us, the sexual side, it’s very primal very…… Plug your PC in and that’s oh no i don’t want that coming up, I’m in the middle of a…..
Anna: We’re running out of power
Jessy: I know and I’m recording. I got I think I just need to plug it in. Just one sec. There you go. Yeah, I’m not gonna lose power, that’s fine, Brilliant. So, i was just saying how that nature side of us and the sexual side, it’s all very, very primal, like a very basic instinct, isn’t it?
Anna: It is. And it’s funny, because I kind of split those two parts of my life out when it comes to how I share them. So, Joyful Nature is all about nature connection, how our well-being benefits from being connected to nature, but then also, what we can then do to care for the planet. And then I’ve got my sexuality work, which is all about exploring and expressing who we are as unique sexual beings. And I was talking about this to somebody else the other day, and I was describing an experience I’ve had recently where I got in a river, a river on Dartmouth, fairly cold water, fairly wild setting. And for me, it was such a sensual experience, because I was completely in my body, i had to be, I’m in this unpredictable environment, an unusual environment for me, the trees all round river was beautiful. And I felt very much in my body, I felt very much in my emotions, it’s quite scary, quite a bit exciting. I felt this kind of, like, all of the beauty of the natural world I was in, and in that, I really appreciated how these things aren’t separated out, this is my nature. And so, there’s, there’s kind of like, being in that wild nature, but then there’s also how I experienced my inner nature. And part of my inner nature is that I’m a sexual being and sexual creative energy is something that I draw on, and I can experience that in different settings. It’s not just about being unconventional sexual settings and it does grow on me, and it does keep me in my body, and the relationship I have with the natural world is something that I draw on to help me remember that I have a body. Because I can get very in my head, I can sit in a computer writing or I don’t know, doing some other work and almost forget my body until I stand up and go, ooh, I’ve got a bit stiff or a really need to wee or something like that. And then I’m brought back to the fact that I’m a body as well as everything else. So, finding those opportunities to integrate, and to bring all of it together is so important for me, and I forget and then I remember and I forget, and I remember, so yeah.
Jessy: So, there’s always that constant reminding yourself that actually no, remember this this body is there to be enjoyed and look how much more experience we can get if we’re in our bodies rather than always in our heads.
Anna: Yeah and it’s not just a vehicle, it’s not just something to get me from A to B. It’s something that I can enjoy as well.
Anna: Yeah, yeah. And actually Yeah, when we tend into our bodies, we can experience things to a much kind of, it’s like turning the volume up, isn’t it? So yeah, mindfulness, the sexuality side of it, the sensual side of it, it’s all so important, isn’t it? And you say you have them very separate, but I know there’s some erotic stories in the woods and yeah so fantastic.
Jessy: Okay, so last question is a bit of a playful, fun question. So, if you were an animal, what would you be and why?
Anna: You primed me for this question. So, I already had an answer and it links with the river. So, there’s an animal called a manatee, which is also known as a sea cow. And they’re big and they’re round, and they live underwater, but they’re mammals so they have to come up to breathe
Jessy: Oh wow.
Anna: And they graze along the bed of the river or the ocean, and they eat green stuff.
Jessy: Okay, manatee.
Anna: And they are beautiful creatures. They are big, graceful, they live in this watery world, but they still haven’t come up to breathe.
Jessy: I just had to Google it, because I wasn’t quite sure.
Anna: And they amazing and I’ve always kind of like associated with that kind of animal. I’m a fire sign and I’m very passionate, but I love being in the water.
Jessy: You do?
Anna: Yeah, so to be in that kind of environment where I can flow, be fluids, but also have the solidity of a body and I’m vegetarian, so it resonates with me as well, like grazing. Just a sea cow grazing the floor of the sea for bits of seaweed and algae, and all that kind of thing. And these animals are at risk from human lifestyle. So, they tend to live in like rivers and estuary bases. So, they’re at risk of being injured by boats, and fishing, and, all the things that we do to animals in terms of like hunting them for various parts of their bodies and that kind of thing. So, they’re very special and we need to care for them. So, that kind of big but graceful in the right environment. They’re also like, they’re not big pack animals. They like to be in small groups or on their own or with another couple or whatever. So, they’re like, I’m an introvert so I don’t need lots of people all the time but i need some companies. So yeah, I love manatees. And they’re also very cute to look at. They’ve got big sort of like whiskery faces.
Anna: I’m not got my whiskers, yet. They’re coming.
Jessy: And then you can start like playing with your own whiskers, brilliant. And I love that element as well. It kind of ties in with the, you know how almost like delicate the sex talk is, and how it needs to be protected in a way as well. So, that that ties in with needing to protect the animals as well. So, I love that. And you are wonderful at all your sea swimming, and now your river swimming as well. And that’s such a wild element to it as well, isn’t it?
Anna: Yeah, absolutely and it’s a place where I have to be present. Because I’m not unnaturally confident, I mean I’m more confident now than I used to be. But I’m always aware of that I’m out of my element. When I’m in the water, I’m out of my element and there’s a lot of respect for being that environment and a lot of kind of like embodied awareness.
Jessy: And pleasure.
Anna: Oh, I love it. Love it.
Jessy: Wow. Yeah, I’m still to be brave enough to go into the seas and in Devon’s. So, maybe next time I’m down we’ll have to, you’ll have to initiate me
Anna: That would be fun.
Jessy: Wonderful. So, is there anything that you want to promote at the moment?
Anna: Well, I do have a book.
Jessy: No, have you? I highly recommended it.
Anna: Thank you. So, my book is Desire Lines, it’s available on Amazon and other book sites. It’s also available on my website. Which is annasansom.com, I would generally love for people to to read this, and to let me know what they think of it, and to let me know what it stirs in them if anything, to let me know their stories. I’m a story collector as well, I love hearing other people’s stories and other people’s experiences and not in a gratuitous way, but because it’s expansive, because it lets us understand more about ourselves and the rest of the world. And so, if anybody wants to have a read of Desire Lines and then let me know what they think and maybe even write a review for me on Amazon or Goodreads that would also be lovely.
Jessy: I will put the links around the video and things but for me certainly, Desire Lines and the work that you have done and we’ve done together, it has certainly unlocked a lot in me and just that appreciation that you know, the spectrum is huge, there’s so much more to think about, talk about. And I think our connection has really informed my work with clients as well, like when they’ve come to me with issues and it’s really helped me to kind of that next level of being non-judgmental and fully accepting that there are lots of different ways and different opportunities that we can take the sexual, essentially in our bodies and things so I’m forever grateful to you my love
Anna: Thank you so much, thank you.
Jessy: Oh, well thank you for this conversation and I hope it’s helped other people kind of hear that It’s okay to talk about sex. I think there’s a song in there somewhere. Oh, well, I’ll end the conversation for now but thank you so much, gorgeous Anna, thank you. Fantastic.