vulvas and vaginas

A source of confusion that arises pretty often is the distinction between a “vagina” and a “vulva.”

I was reminded of this by a smith’d post about loving your body, which is awesome and you should read it.

You’ll notice it has a picture of some cupcakes with icing in the shape of human female external genitals.

Those human female external genitals are the vulva. The labia majora and minora, the clitoris, the urethral meatus, the vaginal introitus, and the perineum.

The vagina is a potential space, a channel leading to the cervix and then to the uterus. It’s an internal reproductive organ – the reproductive canal or, under some circumstances, the birth canal.

Got that sorted now? Good.


attachment styles

Lots of students have heard me talk about attachment styles, and at tea someone asked me if there might be a straightforward way to figure out what attachment style you have. I immediately thought of this table I wrote created for a book about relationships.


You can get a general sense of your attachment style by seeing which of the following sentiments best matches your experience. It’s normal to have some matches in all categories. If you find that one group best describes you, that indicates that that might be your attachment style. And yes, attachment style can be changed through counseling!

Hope it helps!


Secure Attachment

Anxious Attachment

Avoidant Attachment

I feel confident that my partner loves me as much as I love them

It’s easy for me to be affectionate with my partner.

I feel comfortable when my partner wants to be close.

I feel comfortable depending on my partner in a time of need.

I’m grateful when I receive support from others.

I know that my partner will be there for me when I need them.

I feel comfortable when my partner reveals their emotions to me.

I feel comfortable being open with my partner.

When my partner asks for space, I can pull back and give them the distance they need.

I love my partner unconditionally, but I trust them because they’ve shown me they deserve it.

Sometimes I fear that my partner doesn’t love me as much as I love themI find I’m usually more affectionate than my partner is.

I often wish my partner wanted more closeness with me.

I definitely depend on my partner in a time of need.

I rely on support from others; I’m sure I couldn’t handle things on my own.

I fear that my partner might abandon me.

If my partner does not reveal their emotions to me, I fear they may be hiding something.

I often feel that my partner does not want to be as close as I would like them to be.

When my partner asks for space, I have a hard time pulling back.

My friends tell me I accept too much, forgive too easily, and make my partner more important than myself.

Sometimes I worry that my partner loves me too much.

It’s often difficult for me to be affectionate with my partner.

I feel uncomfortable when my partner wants to be close.

I feel uncomfortable depending on my partner to meet my needs.

I have a hard time accepting support from others.

I would leave my partner before they left me.

I feel uncomfortable when my partner reveals their emotions to me.

I find it difficult to open up to my partner; I often keep secrets.

I need a lot more space than my partner does. Sometimes it seems I can’t get enough distance.

I don’t forgive easily. If someone messes up once, that’s it.

Interviews About Relationships- Anonymous

Anonymous Class of 2013

After ending a 4½-year relationship, I was afraid of not being able to find someone else to date. Lame, I know. I’m 22 and worried about it. Not only that, but I felt like I didn’t have the time it takes to really get to know someone the way I’d been able to get to know my high-school boyfriend.

When I went to Seattle at the beginning of the summer for Praxis, I didn’t know anyone. This made me anxious. But it was also exciting. My good friends (from Smith) told me they’d send me good vibes; they were sure I’d meet the love of my life. I was skeptical, at best.

Though I didn’t meet the love of my life, I did make good friends. One became a little something more. The two of us met and hiked almost every weekend. He introduced me to his friends and family. We explored the city together. I felt like it could be something – maybe something more than a summer fling.

As August came upon us, it became clear to me that we were on different pages. At first, it sucked. He wasn’t interested in making something work once I left. And here I was, thinking that all those good vibes had rubbed off.

All summer long, however, I’d made it my goal to live in the moment. (In my head, I’m thinking: “Stop getting ahead of yourself. You are miserable to start keeping track of how many days you have left before half the summer has gone by. Be present!) Instead of anticipating the end, I felt it a better choice to take advantage of what I had found. What I came to appreciate while in Seattle, and what I realize now more than ever, is that although it wasn’t meant to last, it sure made for a more exciting, and truly adventurous experience to have met the people I did. Had it not been for these relationships, I would have been on my own; “‘Tis better to have loved and lost/Than never to have loved at all” – or something like that. 


What were the good things about a summer fling?

Learning about myself (and others) with someone else, and getting to know someone you don’t know anything about – really starting from nothing. It’s exciting. And refreshing.


What were the not-so-good things about having a summer fling?

Having to say goodbye. Having there be a time that I knew, for better or worse, things were going to change. I hate making transitions. And have a way of prolonging goodbyes in a way that makes me want to be sick.


How did you maximize the good stuff and minimize the not-so-good stuff?

I tried to focus all along on having realistic expectations of the relationship I created. In the end, one person (he) felt different from another person (me). By reminding myself of what had worked in previous relationships, and what worked and what didn’t in this relationship was something that became part of the journey. I really believe that things are meant to be. It’s really hard to believe this when things aren’t going the way you want them to – and at the beginning of August, things weren’t going the way I wanted them to. But, reciprocity is an integral part to any relationship (a mother’s wisdom), and if the person you’re with can’t provide for you what you are able to give to them – or what you feel inclined to give – it’s just not worth being in that relationship. Ultimately, this is what enabled me to let go of the relationship I had become part of in Seattle. What was in Seattle is no longer and in retrospect, that’s exactly the way it was meant to be. I needed a reminder that there are other people – good people, fun people, people that play the role of my “person” more successfully – in the world to be in relationship with. As hard as it was to say goodbye, it was inevitable. Now, I know more about the type of relationship I’m interested in, and still have happy memories of the summer and the people I met.  


Take away message: It’s taken me a long, long time to get to where I am – at peace with the end of my first significant relationship, and able to appreciate being in the moment. It’s a work in progress. I still experience pings of regret, or anger towards my summer fling for ultimately choosing to “end” whatever it was that we had; but what I keep going back to is how much fun we had while I was in Seattle, and how much I learned from it. Even if it was temporary, it is good to have known such a good friendship. In the words of (the brilliant) Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young, “If you can’t be with the one you love, honey, love the one you’re with”; things are meant to be. And love and friendship is possible in any moment, as long as you’re there in it.

Interviews About How to Manage Stress- Jenny Weng



Jenny Weng Haven-Wesley House Class of 2015




Extracurricular: Undergraduate research in Professor Carrie Reed’s chemistry lab and I run experiments each week and have a weekly meeting with the professor and the other three students in the lab. I have been working there since last semester.  I also am Haven-Wesley’s house treasurer and the tech director for WOZQ, which involves weekly board meetings. I work with Nat Fortune doing work to develop a course. I have weekly meetings with him also.

Academic Interests: Chemistry and I am very interested in having a broad liberal arts education.

H: What are some things that are stressing you out?

J: I need to find an advisor. Something that stressed me out way more last year was “What major should I pick? And if I pick this major then oh I will only be prepared for so many jobs and when I am picking my major I am picking the rest of my life”.  It’s not a problem anymore because the way I see it now it’s more about the skills I need to acquire more than any set curricular pathway. I am picking a chemistry major because it seems at this point in my life to be the best possible option that aligns with my interests and abilities.

(Side note: People’s majors in college rarely correlate directly with the career they later have.)

H: What are some ways you deal with stress?

J: I try to exercise and that usually helps me out. Even for 30 minutes, but a lot of times I just don’t have time to do that, so stress levels build and build and build and once it passes a threshold, I start feeling it in my shoulders and face tightening up and when I get like that I have absurd laughter. Something mildly funny can make me go into manic laughter and I can’t stop. I also talk to myself more often because when I am stressed out I am more alone because I have to be alone to stay focused. Inner dialogue becomes outer dialogue. I probably come off as totally strange. Sometimes I meditate. I don’t do it regularly but it’s a luck thing. I don’t know if it’s going to work or not but I wake up an hour earlier and just sit still and when I wake up early the whole world is asleep, no cars passing on the street and things are very quiet.  You can just let things be. If you can get to that state where you forget all the shit you have to do, after that you can attempt to do it. It’s like carving out a time to do nothing.  The world is not doing anything and neither are you.

H: Does talking to people about stress help you?

J: Yeah because it’s a way for me to acknowledge it and externalize it. In that way stress is an emotion.  A lot of stress has to do with an overwhelming feeling. Talking to somebody- the ideal is that you will accept your stress as something that just is and you can move on and not just blindly panic.  Conversation can help with that.