5 steps to sustained happiness

Lately, I've been thinking a lot about pleasure as a motivator and making a practice out of doing the things that make me happy (so long as no one else gets {non-consensually} harmed). Somehow we've convinced ourselves that pleasure is a luxury and that happiness must take a backseat to productivity. There are of course socio-political and economic reasons for this, but I'll spare you my far-left take on the issue :)

I am a fiercely communal person and my ability to be a good lover, friend and citizen is wholly dependent upon my being happy, healthy and whole. Here are a few things I do to make sure all three requirements are fulfilled

  1. Identify the things that make you happy: I'm surprised at the number of people who have difficulty naming concrete actions that lift their spirits. I've shared a few of the things that work for me here and here, but there are a million others: Spending time in the sun or near an open window,  getting lost in a blackhole of NPR Tiny Desk Concerts, taking a walk, working up a sweat, eating lemon sorbet, trying my hand at a new creative outlet or revisiting an old one, a warm bath and a glass of wine, etc. etc. Figure out what works for you and write it down...When you're not feeling your best, it can be difficult to remember the things that make you smile, so this list will be helpful.
  2. Set aside time every single day to do one or some of them: This doesn't have to be an extravagant activity and you don't have to do it for long. Take 10 minutes, every day and dedicate it to something that makes you laugh or smile. Keep it consistent if it's something you'd like to incoporate into your life daily, or switch it up if you get bored easily.
  3. Touch someone and allow someone to touch you: Humans need touch. This is a biological truth. The touch doesn't have to be sexual, it absolutely should not be creepy and can be as simple as a handshake, a hug, or a friendly pat on the back where appropriate. Try touching yourself, while you're at it.
  4. Give yourself the credit you deserve: You've worked hard to get where you are and you absolutely deserve some recognition for it. Sometimes our best work happens in the dark, away from the fanfare and the glamour of public acknowledgement. Small successes make big successes happen. Don't forget to celebrate your achievements. 
  5. Limit your screen time: That is, after you send me an email, of course :)
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A familiar intimacy

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I recently spent some time in Baltimore shooting with the absolutely brilliant Ramon Jamar. I went in with high expectations. His Instagram feed was sexy in an honest and un-cluttered way that appealed to my own tendency towards understated sensuality. The kind of sensuality which feels at once familiar and refreshing; which can be felt at exactly the same moment it is seen. After a few months of following him, I was sure that the intimacy between the models and the camera was real. He was capturing something in their eyes and I was curious to see if he could capture it in mine. Unfortunately, bad laws, worse politicians and stigma like you couldn't imagine prevent me from showing you what he managed to find when looking through the viewfinder, but you'll have to take for my word for it when I say that he found something beautiful. Every time I have new photos taken, I'm amazed at the way photographers tell stories. This time, I felt that to be even more true. The precision, intention and stillness required for great analog photos was a challenge I enjoyed meeting. Conveying comfort and fluidity through stillness is no small feat, but working for every shot made seeing the final images that much sweeter. 

I have to admit that I worried that these photos might reveal too much. That they were more beautiful than sexy, more personal than marketing and thus unfit for professional use. But, in the end I decided that these images say a lot about the experience I intend for you and I to have: I want to leave remnants of the memories we've created in the corners of suites from Washington, DC to Mozambique. I want to wake up slowly to your smile and a warm cup of mint tea. I want to feel powerful and comfortable and and divinely feminine whether I'm rolling around in bed or walking the street. I want our love nest to feel like ours even if only for a few hours.

As I gathered my things, said goodbye to Ray and made my way to the door, rain began coming down in heavy sheets. Before I could cross the threshold, I was soaked and so were my bags, but I've always know that rain cleanses, washes and renews.

I've shared a few samples of what we created together here, but others can be viewed in my photo gallery. All of the truly explicit not-at-all-work safe photos can be found on my private blog which you are welcome to inquire about gaining access to. 

I hope you enjoy these images as much as I enjoyed making them for you. 

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Liv's love list

It's been quite some time since I updated the blog, but I thought it might be fun to curate a (living) list of things that I love. From the mundane to the extravagant, here are some of my favorites:

crisp singles and multiple women to spend them on | sushi | a well written essay | a freshly opened bottle of wine | my name on your lips | 90s RnB | ice water | the number 8 | cheese course | Pepperidge Farm Chessmen cookies | kink | film photography | cumin | honey | acrylic paints | perfectly ripened mangoes | gray hair | waking up early to write | fresh produce | clever poetry | bacon | silk pillowcases and bed-sheets | nudity | ambition | friction against nipples | secluded beaches | inventive and filling meals | art for art's sake | organized chaos | gorgeous pumps | sun-warmed bodies of water | voyeurism | leather-bound journals | exhibitionism | dive bars | mint tea in the mornings | chamomile in the evenings | lemon sorbet | intelligent women | doting men | fresh air | massages | homemade meals | midday rendezvous | depravity masked by purity | plain yogurt | sharpened knives | film photography | cycling | bathtubs and bubbly | breathtaking vistas | a man who orders for me | a man who allows me to order for him | the fuzzy time between being wide awake and falling asleep | natural light | chipping away at my student loans | honey | gold | 1st edition books | undermining authority | handwritten letters | warm skin | threesomes and moresomes | sociological theory | artistry and passion | Toni Morrison | disagreement and growth | depth and intimacy | the West Indies | coconut oil | a crisp peach | Cabernet | house plants | used bookstores | gentle, but purposeful lovers | live music | long walks with no destination | new cities | lavender | lazy Sundays | giving and receiving thoughtful gifts | farmer's markets | Heather Headley | Afro-futurism | contrast | chivalry | gin | your hand at my hip | fluffy pillows | easy smiles and genuine laughter | excellence | spontaneous adventure | rivers, lakes and mountains | a well-equipped kitchen | yoga | James Baldwin | berries | My BFFs Chanel, Celine and Jimmy (Choo) 

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2018

In my experience, the first few weeks of a new year have always been hectic and this year is no exception: Freezing temperatures, snow up and down the east coast, and the organization and re-organization of hectic schedules all contributed to an eventful start to 2018. But alas, all's well that ends well, right?

For the past few months, I've been trying really hard to be honest with myself about both my strengths and my limitations. Unfortunately (or perhaps fortunately?), New Year's resolutions fall firmly into the category of limitations. I just can't get into the idea of committing to do (or not do) something for an entire year just because the calendar has cycled back to January 1st... Not to mention that the whole feigned sense of commitment, "new year, new me," facade that people throw up around this time, just isn't quite my vibe.

I do, however, believe in periodically taking stock of where I'm at and what I could do better. And that, my friends, is exactly what this post is about:

  1. GYM: I've always been an athletic and active person. The feeling of watching my body transform before my eyes as I incorporate (or eliminate) certain activities and foods, is incredible. As a petite, pocket-sized woman, I enjoy being solid and strong and surprising lovers and strangers alike with that strength! But, the reality is that I don't always remember how much I enjoy these things. As this new year begins, I'd like to get back to that feeling. I'm also on the hunt for a super hot personal trainer to help *cough* motivate me (I can't be the only one with that fantasy... right?) What does this mean for you? If I have anything to say about it, that firm booty that you know and love will be even firmer and more delicious just in time for bikini and summer dress season. Feel free to get in touch if you'd like to verify for yourself ;)
  2. TRAVEL: I was incredibly lucky to travel to so many new and beloved places in 2017. My feet hit the ground in locales both domestic and international, luxurious and spartan, and I loved every single moment of it. I'd like to continue doing that in the coming months, but with a little more structure. Each month, I'll be taking a few days to myself to explore both nearby and far-flung gems that feed my soul. What does this mean for you? I pride myself on being a flexible, roll-with-the-punches kind of girl. This will not change. It does, however, mean that I'll need your help in planning as much in advance as possible. Have an event you know you want to attend or dates that you know you'll be in DC, NYC, Boston, or another city that I frequent? It's never too early to put your name in my schedule, baby! Let's do it :)
  3. GRATITUDE: This past year was incredible, thanks in large part to all of the wonderful colleagues and clients I've had the pleasure of meeting. To my colleagues: Your resilience, business savvy, activism, and beauty has inspired me to be not only a better companion, but a better person. I have learned so much from so many of you (many of whom I have yet to meet!). I would be completely remiss not to specifically mention Ava Zane for her brilliance, unabashed honesty and friendship; And Leana Lane for being so quick to welcome me to DC and facilitate the provider-to-provider connections which are so important to this work we do. To my clients: You all have cherished, supported and given me so, so, so much. It's been a wild ride and I can't wait to see what else is in store for us! What does this mean for you? Thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you. I likely can't say it enough, but I'm damn sure going to try.

 

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On Travel Engagements

 

Though we've only just arrived, I'm already topless at the side of the pool, adorned only with a sun-drunk grin and barely-there bottoms; My skin gleaming in a way that only tropical sunlight and the over-use of coconut and olive oils can illicit. I'm beckoning to you in hopes that you'll leave the shadow of our villa's door and come join me. We'll take turns exploring each other under the guise of applying sunscreen and when we're done, I'll be wearing nothing at all but that grin.

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Or maybe I've made sure to pack my most stylish (yet comfortable!) sneakers for long days spent winding our way through city streets? And if that is the case, I hope that at least once we find ourselves lost and nearly sick of retracing our steps through alleyways and byways ripe with the stories of travelers. We'll stop at some local watering hole for a taste of anything cool and liquored, marveling at the warmth and skill of the one-person show: owner-chef-hostess-waiter-bartender-cleaning staff all in one. The decor is simple, worn and perfect.

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No matter where you've envisioned our rendezvous, know that I am content with an even blend of lazy moments and intense exploration. I hope that we do at least one thing we've never done before; That we find a new favorite dish that we struggle to re-create once we've made our way home. To be safe, I'll brush up on my Spanish and try my damnedest not to forget it all when we need it most. Weeks after our return, we'll find remnants of our adventures deep in our pockets and between the pages of the novels we brought with us. Our escape will be memorialized in words or in photographs, but mostly in the folds of our memories. 

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*That insatiable lust for travel is back again and as is often the case, I'm more than willing to yield to temptation. However, for reasons of safety, admirers who I have yet to see, but who are interested in a travel engagement, will require additional screening and a phone call to ensure compatibility.  Bespoke, international travel rates will include my travel expenses and are heavily incentivized to reflect my preference for engagements of the like. With the details of your budget and proposed itinerary in hand, I look forward to hearing from you.