The WANT Woman: Lauren Bille of Cycles + Sex and The Big Quiet

The WANT Woman: Lauren Bille of Cycles + Sex and The Big Quiet

Community WANT Women

We talk about our Through Line a lot on WANT: the common theme in everything you love and the common goal in everything you do. An alternate way to think about your “purpose,” looking at life through the lens of your Through Line makes things a lot less about what you do and a lot more about why and how you do it.

The best part of acting based on your unique Through Line instead of what you think you “should” be doing?

It gives others permission to do the same.

By leaning into your fullest potential, you create a domino effect that helps others follow suit.

Lauren Bille’s Through Line is the kind that creates a major chain reaction wherever she goes: she facilitates experiences for people to connect and reflect deeply with themselves and others, so muchso that it spurs them into action.

Lauren’s passionate about equality, social impact, building meaningful communities, and shifting cultural paradigms. She’s a master at bringing people together to activate their inner activist. With that kind of Through Line, you’re bound to make shift happen no matter what you do.

Lauren is currently a partner at The Big Quiet, where she helps organize mass meditations (mass = literally thousands of people) in iconic locations like Central Park and Madison Square Garden, and a co-founder of Cycles + Sex, an event that gives people the kind of education, tools, and empowerment on sexual, menstrual, hormonal, and reproductive health that we wish we would have learned in health class.

She’s spent the last 15 years working on social justice causes like race, gender and class politics, education policy, immigration resources, sustainable food, climate change/its effects on third world countries, and democratizing mindfulness. If you’re part of the WANT community here in NYC, you might remember her from our How To Activate Your Inner Activist panel back in February, where she dropped some major wisdom on everything from owning your privilege to mindfully engaging on social media.

So many of us are looking to make a difference in our messy world right now. Lauren is proof that change starts not with the WHAT, but the WHY. We create the meaning in our own lives.

WANT Lauren:


Name: 
Lauren Bille


How you’d know me (occupation or role): 
Partner at The Big Quiet , Co- Founder of CYCLES + SEX

What I love about myself (and why): Love comes naturally to me. I’m good at loving people. Also I’m really childlike in spirit.

What is your definition of “positivity?” Seeing things through a lens of gratitude, hope and trust.

When did you start to love yourself – did you have a self-love “turning point?” 
When I was 17 I was given some tools to deal with life that helped me to see that my probs were of my own making. Essentially I was very self centred. Having low self esteem is just as self centered as having too much pride. It’s all ego.

Once I could see that, I had the opportunity to seek humility and a life when I think about myself less and think of others and how I can be of service more. When I try to live this way- I feel good about myself. It’s a daily practice. But truly, whenever I am very upset, it has to do with me and my thinking about myself.

Low self esteem is just as self centered as too much pride. It's all ego. - @laurenbille Click To Tweet

How/where negative talk shows up in my life: 
It shows up when I’m tired, hungry, not taking good care of myself. And taking care of myself involves lots of diff things. It shows up as pain, fear, wanting to give up and run away, feeling less than (again this is all self centered and ego- like the world revolves around me)

When I talk negatively about myself, it’s usually… I don’t want to type it or say it out loud because it’s putting it into the universe, and manifesting. All forms of I’m not good enough, which can be broken down to I’m not loveable.

When others talk negatively about themselves… 
I show them love and then help them think of adding to the world. Watching others talk negatively about themselves shows me how self centered it is.

It baffles me that women still… Get liposuction, fake tan, straighten or perm their hair, don’t leave the house without eye liner. It’s wild all these things we do for the approval of men. Of the systems of beauty set up by men and reaffirmed by women who conform to them. I still conform to them.

I wish that more women… Were brave and honest and bold and independent. Were truly themselves. Let their natural beauty be revealed.

The coolest thing about women is… 
They are the most powerful. They have the solutions to all the problems inside themselves. Together (tribes of women) they are like the ultimate eternal force of nature.


My favorite way to shift a negative into a positive: 
Remember that it doesn’t matter! It’s all my thinking! I create the meaning in my life. So I try to look at the big picture, stop being so self centered, pull out of the fear and ego, and be grateful.


I create the meaning in my life. - @laurenbille Click To Tweet

My top female role models: Fannie Lou Hammer, Angela Davis, Alicia Keys

Men can help women crush their negative talk patterns by… 
LISTENING to us. Becoming aware of patriarchal systems. Making choices not to conform to society’s beauty standards. Stepping aside to raise us up.

Favorite negativity-busting activities: Being with powerful women. Creating. Serving causes I believe in. Exercise. Sleep. Meditation.

Fave self-love ritual: 
To do all these things: Foot bath with special essential oils, water or tea, good tunes, pause and feel grateful


Favorite feel-good food(s): 
Water. Smoothies.

Favorite movie(s) to watch when I’m feeling down: Rom-coms

Favorite empowering book(s): 
Pema Chodron,
 When Things Fall ApartAnything by Brené Brown


My feel-good playlist:

Frank Ocean
Blood Orange
Nirvana Unplugged (lol)
Neutral Milk Hotel

Advice I would give my
…4 year old self:
there’s nothing to be scared of

…14 year-old self: same
…24 year old self: same

5 Things, personal or professional, on my bucket list:

• Make lots of money
• Run for office
• Be a part of revolutionary social change
• Experience revolutionary romantic love
• Build successful businesses that do good for the world

My best tip on self love: 
Treat yourself like you are a friend or a child who you love so much, unconditionally. Think of what they may need, what’s best for them.


When I truly love all of myself… 
I take good care.


Right now, I am most excited about… 
Working with incredible people to shift culture and make positive social impact.


My body is: 
Healthy and grateful.


Three words to describe me: 
Brave. Curious. Childlike.


Current mantra: 
“Rage, rage against the dying of the light.” -Dylan Thomas

Learn more about how to get involved in The Big Quiet here and Cycles + Sex here.


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The WANTcast Episode 016, Your Vulva Is A Snowflake: On Hang-Ups, Trauma, + Screwing The Shame w/ Sex Educator Anne Hodder

The WANTcast Episode 016, Your Vulva Is A Snowflake: On Hang-Ups, Trauma, + Screwing The Shame w/ Sex Educator Anne Hodder

Body Love the WANTcast

So, you’re probably wondering about that title, “your vulva is a snowflake,” and the fact that today’s episode has the word “sex” front and center

You might even be thinking, oh this episode isn’t for me, I’m not in a relationship or having sex – or, I AM in a relationship and it’s a healthy relationship – or, I’m not looking for sex advice right now – or whatever might be coming into your brain because this episode has “sex” in the title.

I want to make this clear – yes, we talk about the act of sex a little, but this episode is not about intercourse or partnership. Like, at all.

This is one of the most all-inclusive, body-positive conversations I know I’ve ever had. And probably, you too.

Anne Hodder 5-13-691
Sexuality doesn’t have a start date and an expiration date. - @theannehodder Click To Tweet

Anne Hodder is a certified sex educator, sex toy expert, and sex-positive PR & marketing pro at Hodder Media. I originally met her at the gym, in a spin class, and since then she has been such a thoughtful, wise, and supportive presence in my life. I knew that when the time was right, I needed to have her on the pod. And today, more than ever, seems like the moment to talk as candidly, honestly, graphically, and altruistically about sex, sexuality, trauma, consent, desire, and body positivity as we do here in Episode 16.

So when you hear “sex educator,” if you’re like me, you probably think about your health teacher in middle school and that one unit they did on the “how-tos” of sex and our bodies.

Talking to Anne, I learned it’s, so, SO much more than that. And while most of us get the birds and the bees talk or maybe get that year or two of classes in school, it’s NOT enough. What Anne does isn’t just talking about intercourse – it’s about owning your body, your decisions, your emotions, and making empowered choices. Yes, sometimes in the bedroom – but a lot of what she talks about doesn’t even have to do with going between the sheets.

Live your truth no matter how loud other people might get w/ their definitions. - @theannehodder Click To Tweet

In this episode, we talk about shame, what we get wrong about sexual trauma – or at least what I did – and how MUCH that explains when it comes to the way we navigate our relationships and sexuality, her experiences with talking to high schoolers vs. adults, Anne’s journey into the sex journalism and then sex education world, judgement, dealing with embarrassment, body hangups, sex positivity, body positivity, and why no emotion is mutually exclusive. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg.

I especially love Anne’s take on the ideas surrounding “normal,” how clickbait pseudo-science articles on the web screw us up, and how we can all be WAY more accepting of who we are and how we desire.

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I came to a realization while listening back to this recording: Ann says “There are things we can and cannot say to people under 18. The thing we need to remember when talking with high school kids is that developmentally they’re in a totally different place.” And it donned on me that most of our FORMAL, ACTUAL SEX ED ends in high school health class. Which means that, for most of us, the education ends before we’re actually experiencing the majority of our mature sexual life. The education ends – and the speculation begins. No wonder sex, sexuality, and everything even closely related seems like such a mystery – the information we have was given to us based on what we were actually able to process at the time!

I had “human development class” every single year from kindergarten to sixth grade, talking about everything from dating to kissing to drugs to, yes, how babies are made. And then I got to middle school, and I distinctly remember we talked about sex in 7th grade. And then nothing in 8th, then barely anything in 9th, and that was it. In 9th grade, I was 14 years old.

I was really lucky to have incredibly open-minded and candid parents, especially a mom I could talk to or ask anything. But I know some young women aren’t as lucky growing up. Even with her guidance, I was still being handed a set of experiences and opinions – nothing from anyone actually trained to guide me through things from an educational non-parental perspective. So it makes sense to me that sex and sexuality are most commonly surrounded by shame, mystery, rebellion, etc. And moreOVER!, we only see sex portrayed a certain way in the media – USUALLY heterosexual, usually cisgender, and USUALLY two really young, really pretty people. Very little body diversity, age diversity, gender diversity. We’ve got to see more in order to normalize our own normal.

This should go without saying, but this episode IS for mature audiences – we swear a bit, we talk not GRAPHICALLY in a vulgar way but in an anatomical way, and while Anne was cracking me up throughout the entire episode, it’s definitely not a set of subjects to be taken lightly. And hey, if that’s not your thing, cool – or if you’re, I don’t know, my grandma listening (and she DOES listen) and you don’t really want to hear your granddaughter talking about this, that’s cool too! But on the huge flipside, I would say that this is an episode that should DEFINITELY be shared with anyone in your life who is open to listening, because as we discuss on the episode, we live in a culture that dodges these important topics way too often and to our detriment.

 

WANT ANNE:

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Barbie Davenport
Find your local Planned Parenthood

Normal, just like gender, is self-defined. - @theannehodder Click To Tweet

Like this episode? Shoot me a comment below, leave a review on iTunes (the more reviews, the more Anne’s message is spread), share it on Facebook, tweet it out on Twitter, or post it on Instagram. Be sure to use the hashtags #WANTcast, #womenagainstnegativetalk, and/or #WANTyourself!

anne hodder