Photo by Zackary Drucker as part of Broadly’s Gender Spectrum Collection. Credit: The Gender Spectrum Collection. Made available to media outlets via Creative Commons.

By Shay Youngblood

Pleasure is an experience that feels good to you. Many activities can give us pleasure: eating, seeing art or a beautiful sunrise, listening to music, dancing, gardening, reading a good book, making love. Pleasure is associated with happiness and feelings of contentment and well-being. We all want that. Can I get a witness? Some of what gives me pleasure can be found in images on my Instagram account where I document my pleasure, mainly to remind myself that I can rewrite my story. On those dark days, there have been a number of them in the past few years, I can see that I have created many instances of joy and it reminds me that I can create more.

It is better to create pleasure than pursue it.

For a long time I have made pleasure part of my daily routine. I wake up and feel gratitude that I’m alive. I stretch my body and breathe deeply. I listen to calm, soothing music, light a candle on one of several altars in my home and just sit with the sound of my breath for a few minutes. Then it’s on, coffee, look over my to-do list, and set my intentions for the day. At the top of my unwritten list: look for something beautiful, read poetry, taste something sweet, have a belly laugh, give a belly laugh. It used to include: give a hug and get one, until the pandemic. Even on those days when I don’t leave my house I sit on the deck and listen to the birds sing, watch the neighborhood cat slink through the tall grass or imagine the touch of a lovers hand.

Creating routines to take care of your mind, body, spirit and your sex life is a healthy goal. Writing about what makes you feel good is one way to remember and imagine the kind of pleasure that makes you smile or the kind that makes
your toes curl. Among the benefits of pleasure is a strengthened immune system, relief from stress, an increase in productivity and creative flow. Pleasure is not self-indulgence, it is self-care. Giving yourself the gift of pleasure serves to confirm your sense of self worth and lasts far longer than outside praise.

I hope you’ll join us for the Creating Our Pleasure Tool Box Writing Workshop. We’ll explore what gives us pleasure, write about it, talk about it and ultimately make it happen.

Suggested Reading
Pleasure Activism: The Politics of Feeling Good, edited by adrienne maree brown

Shay Youngblood is a Shay Youngblood is a writer, educator, multidisciplinary artist and former allgo Artist in Residence. Author of novels (Soul Kiss and Black Girl in Paris), a collection of short stories and numerous essays, her published plays have been widely produced. Her short stories have been performed at Symphony Space and recorded for NPR’s Selected Shorts. Youngblood received her MFA in Playwriting from Brown University. Her current projects include children’s books, a graphic novel collaboration and an allgo supported multi-media performance, installation work on architecture, memory and the environment inspired by research in Japan, China and the U.S. To learn more about Shay, visit or follow @shayyoungbloodarts on Instagram.

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