[New Year, New You] Some Enchanted Evening

So. The last few weeks have been difficult. Which is putting it mildly. I learned things about people that I never knew and it not only rocked my world, but it has brought down a company, and affected many, many other people in the process. Lines have been drawn, so many people came forward with stories of their own, and somewhere in it, I found the courage to write my own story and share it with a community that is dear to my heart.

Since then, I’ve been in the process of re-examining my life over the past decade or so, as a result. I put a full stop on all kink I was involved in, from established relationship dynamics all the way to potential new play partners. It fucked with my head that someone I thought I knew and whom had helped build my foundation in kink had manipulated and groomed and abused so many people, including people who were underage. So I talked to everyone I was in a relationship or playing with, even casually, and those I was negotiating with and stopped all kink.

Statuses were changed on Fet. Routines were changed. Plans were cancelled. It felt hella awkward at times, and painful. It also showed me how much kink in simply part of my life in intrinsic ways that I hadn’t realized before. I put a fuckton of casual kink (especially pain play) into sensual and sexual experiences with others. There are some other discoveries and epiphanies I’ve been working on during this process and I’m grateful that the people in my life currently all took it gracefully and supportively. I’ve needed some time to reflect, to question, to rebuild. I’m likely going to need more time, but I can feel myself slowly come out of it with some newer realizations. For instance, I actually had begun to rebuild slowly a few years ago. As I learned more about informed and ongoing consent, I knew better so I could do better. There’s never going to be a point where I’m done learning and that’s actually an oddly comforting feeling. I always want to strive to be better and do better.

All of this, and watching the explosions unfold, and the rebuilding that I see others doing and I’ve done, and the healing, and the struggle to make sense of it all, and to get answers…has all taken a lot of time and energy. I don’t just mean my own; so many people have been affected by this and each of us has our own story. For my part, here especially, it’s a means of explaining to myself and anyone else reading this why I haven’t kept up with the New Year, New You prompts.

That all being said, I am back, bitches!

It’s incredibly fitting that I came back to it on the week after Deb had said we should do something nice for ourselves (I did and wound up writing it before everything exploded and scheduling it to appear smack dab in the middle of all the shit. I had forgotten abou tit until I started receiving notifications that a few people liked the post. The internet can be a strange place, sometimes.)

But now it’s all “back to work, bus slave.”

So! Back to work. When last we left off, I had yet to detail how I was going to make my goals come to fruition.

UUUUGGHHHHHHH.

Okay, here we go.

Here’s what I wrote on week two as my goals for this year and following I’ll add what I’m going to be doing to help myself work towards each goal in specific detail. (The kink category is coming off the table for the moment.)

  • Creativity
    • music: practicing uke 5x per week for at least 20 minutes, making at least one video a month of uke playing/singing and posting it somewhere on the interwebs, crafting new burlesque routines
    • writing: this prompt will take care of once a week for twenty-three weeks. I’m also signing up for Cannonball Read
    • drawing: I’m planning on announcing a project I have for myself on FB soon that will help with all the creativity and the authentic connections.
      Spirituality
  • Spirituality
    • these writing prompts are helping me practice more
    • reading Deb’s book Glamour Magic: The Witchcraft Revolution to Get What You Want (which will also help the creativity, as I’ll be writing a review of it for Cannonball Read)
    • seeking out tarot and continuing with my Angel divination deck
    • intentionally visiting nature more
    • trying to find another yoga instructor/class
    • meditate again (this one’s hard because it’s tied to kink for me in that I meditate best on my knees. But I have some difficulty with kneeling currently, from a combination of knee pain I should try to overcome and some recent grief associated with some relationship issues)
  • Kink (for now, not a priority)
    • seeking out play that will put me on both sides of the slash
    • seeking out people I can bounce with
    • actually writing up and posting my class descriptions
    • applying for at least one event
    • reaching out to people in the scene to learn more
    • reading more
    • taking more photos
  • Health
    • mental/emotional – therapy, letting go of the past, allowing myself to feel my emotions as they happen, all the others help with this one, too
    • physical – more activity. Current job will help with this. Once I am out of training, walk around floor for at least 20 minutes a day. Eating better. Taking gluten, sugar, and dairy mostly out of my diet. Drinking more waterAuthentic relationships
      • seeking out the people who are authentic in my life
      • moving away from those who aren’t
      • making sure I am clear to the universe that these two things are my intention
      • making myself vulnerable
      • work on holding space for myself and for others in pain
      • personal responsibility
      • gratitude. Endless gratitude and expressing it to the authentic, glorious people in my life
  • Cleaning
    • organizing costumes
    • organizing closet
    • donating items
    • selling things
    • coming up with a schedule for regular household cleaning

So my best ideas as that some changes need to made. I will therefore dedicate time in the following manner:

  • an hour after work for practicing uke, cleaning something (closet, costumes, laundry, purging things to give away/sell/dontate), and to read and unwind. 20 minutes for each category, which hits on uke practicing, mental health, and cleaning
  • getting up a half hour early to have time to meditate
  • walking around the stores I’m in for at least 20 minutes each day
  • writing – keeping up with the writing prompts again and continuing with the Cannonball Read challenge. Also figure out time where I can write things outside the New Year, New You challenge.
  • keep striving to be honest and open in my communications and allow space for others to be, too
  • also continue to examine things and make apologies and amends as I’m able to
  • work on video on one of my days off. February video will be up by 2/28.
  • announce creative project I had that will also help me connect with people. I will announce that by 3/15.
  • continue to work on finding time to rehearse with band. (Oh, because holy shit, on things that happened in the past few weeks is I started a band with two other awesome people. More on that later after we get a few more rehearsals under our belt.)
  • planning one full ritual for myself each month

It’s not hyper detailed, but it’s better than I had going into this writing and I will start implementing it tonight. Here’s to getting back to work.

Also, in terms of songs, it’s “Doing the Unstuck” by The Cure. All day, every day right now:

“But it’s much too late” you say
“For doing this now
We should have done it then”
Well it just goes to show
How wrong you can be
And how you really should know
That it’s never too late
To get up and go…

Time to get up and go, damnit.

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Pack your bags; we’re going on a journey of sensual/sexual evolution!

In the beginner, I was a LESBIAN. I knew in my early teens but it took me a few more years to say anything to anyone. When I came out to my mom around 17 or so, her back-handed supportive response was “let me know when you figure out you’re bi.” Which pissed me off to nearly no end (I’m mostly over it. Mostly.) when somewhere along the way, right around the time I met my now ex-husband, I realized bisexual fit better. Grrrrrrrr.

From there, in my twenties, it got more complicated as I came to understand that gender wasn’t a binary, and even further, that I was attracted to people and their gender didn’t have much to do with it. I pushed my own gender exploration aside due to shame and fear, focusing instead on my poly, kink, and sexual evolution. Pansexual mostly fit for that, though I was never too comfortable with the “sexual” part. Then, in my mid/late thirties, I learned about demisexuality and the asexual spectrum. As I learned about that, the umbrella of gray asexuality was the closest I’ve come to a term that fit me. So I’ve settled on queer, gray ace. Because it’s fluid and not a fixed point. And “gray ace” is easier than than trying to explain a sexuality contains all this:

  • I have no interest in sex unless there’s some form of D/s, power exchange, energy exchange, or kink involved. It can be light power dynamics, it can be emotional sadism or masochism, it can be full on CNC (my fav), it can be tantra or some other type of energetic exchange, but there has to be some form of connection involved that isn’t just physical. Vanilla sex has absolutely no appeal to me.
  • Sex, in general, is not necessary nor is it preferred most of the time for me in kink. I do get turned on sometimes via kink, but most times, I don’t. It’s also highly specific to the activity and the partner(s). It’s been over 10 years since a rose flogging, in an of itself, has resulted in anything sexual for me or happening with the person I’m doing it on at the time.
  • Which leads to sensual kink. For me, kink is generally sensual as all hell. But it doesn’t usually “turn me on”.
  • It’s taken a longass time to discover that I can (and really like to) make out and do pick up play outside of a Relationship, but beyond making out, most times, I’m not interested in sexual things happening.
  • When I say “sexual things” I mean anything that directly stimulate the genitals or results in an orgasm. Vaginal sex, anal sex, oral sex, manual sex, sex with toys. All sex, to me. I know a few people who don’t think anything beyond PIV or PIA is sex, but that’s not the way I roll.
  • It’s also taken me a similarly longass time to begin to accept that I can actually have casual sex with people I’m not in a Relationship with. When I was identifying as a demisexual, I thought it was impossible. I now know it’s not just possible, it’s happened and I liked it. It’s not been frequent, by any stretch, but it has happened. It just depends on the situation, the person, the interests, the connection, the circumstances, and how we feel about it.), However, I need to have at least a basis of friendship.
  • Still don’t think I can do a one night stand with someone I don’t know. However, for the times I’ve been able to have sex when not in a Relationship, there has been some element of D/s or energy or power exchange involved, even just a little. Or it eventually went there. I once was in a situation where there was some energy stuff happening and making out with someone who is very big on active and ongoing consent/check-ins (and knows how to make them really sexy, too, which is skillz I wholeheartedly aspire to, let me tell ya) and at one check-in, I said that I was feeling all “yes”…but then it felt immediately not fully true. It wasn’t that I wasn’t feeling “yes”…I was (so. much. yes.)….so I explained that I also felt very much “I want to say ‘no’….to mean ‘yes'”. Which was more complicated and not something we had talked about, so we didn’t go there that time. We may or may not ever go there, and that’s okay. But I feel that CNC feeling a lot. 97% of my fantasies revolve around some form of CNC and/or cuckqueanery.
  • I just almost never feel like I solely want to fuck…or have sex and orgasm with another person as a…goal. I most often crave cuddling, making out, sensual touching, power and energy exchange, pain, exploring bodies and having mine explored…like, seriously, the inside of the elbows and hollow of the back and the inner thigh and the ankle….they’re so under-explored. I like touching, licking, nibbling, biting, caressing. There’s just so much to explore and I sometimes find myself getting lost or sad when I’ve gotten comfortable making out and it turns into NEW GOAL IS SEX. ORGASM.
  • For me, sex isn’t it’s own…impetus. Or goal, really. I do not have a primary sex drive.  I barely have a secondary sex drive. I totally have a primary kink drive. I almost never have any interest in coming unless someone wants me to. That being said, I very much like being of sexual service to people I connect to in that way.
  • I need filthy, dirty, vicious words whispered threateningly in my ear, a hand on my throat, teeth on my earlobe, tongue flickering inside my wrist…I need there to be pauses, silence, someone just out of sight, not knowing what they’re doing, a blindfold so I can’t see, force, direction. Please, make me serve you…it can be done with a calm directive or a brutal order; I don’t care. What do YOU want to take, goddamnit? Tell me. Claim it.

Sorry, where was I? My brain went a for a little gutter field trip, there…

Anyway, some of the most memorable times for me in regards to actual sexual arousal are things like having my palm stroked in such a way that I almost came…and had to stop because it was against my set of rules at the time. Seriously. Just MY PALM being stroked. Or finally being able to relax into myself and have an orgasm after struggling for so long to come…by being told it wasn’t for me. It was for the person I was with a the time. Or “preparing” a partner (fluffer, aisle one) to fuck another partner and being denied sex myself. Or a hug that morphed into a hand on my throat which led to me against a wall in a very intense kiss. Or a really long breath play scene that could’ve, to the untrained or unkinky eye, been call oral sex but technically had very little to do with sex, didn’t result in an orgasm for either of us, and had everything to do with power. Power claimed and taken, power surrendered willingly.

This ongoing evolution has been confusing as hell for me sometimes. The good thing is I finally feel like I’m finally wholly comfortable with the labels I’ve chosen without them feeling restrictive. They can help explain things and I have room to interpret, move fluidly go with how I feel in each interaction. I can articulate what I do and don’t want to people. Friends who might be play partners, friends who are already play partners, new people I meet who might be friends and/or play partners. Any of the above who might be a mentor.

Case in point: one of my partners asked me why I wasn’t pursuing someone I had recently met. The case was made that this person was my type, interested in similar things, and, as far as what little my partner knew about them, available. Problem was, I had no interest. I got no kinky vibe, no power exchange vibe, didn’t think they were poly. Turns out, after a general convo about online dating, I was right.

I’ve also come to realize that I don’t really have much interest in dating, so I literally just disabled my OKC account today. I’m not looking for any new poly partners, as I try to navigate life and a lot of changes and more to come. The only new things I’m open to right now are friends, mentors, and play partners, so I updated my Fet profile, too. I’ve been able to tell people that I’m a gray ace. It’s been scary, because I’m afraid they’ll walk, but if they do, I have to remember that it’s not a condemnation of me; it’s that our needs/desires don’t match up. And that’s just life.

So this is where I’m at in January of 2018…continually seeking, evolving, learning, and growing. Thank you for reading and any comments or questions you have. It’s likely that if you’re reading this, you’ve had some part in helping me figure this out, be it posts you’ve shared, convos or experiences we’ve had together, being supportive of me, or just by being part of a community that welcomes this type of growth and sharing. I’m grateful for that.

[New Year, New You] Week 2 – Goals (and little victories)

And welcome to my second entry in The New Year, New You Project, an experiment in #MagicalRadicalTransformation (or the longest hashtag ever….no that’s not a challenge. Although now I’m curious…aaaaand now I’m back. Nope. Not even close to the longest hashtag ever.) Did I mention I have a tendency to procrastinate? And that it sometimes gets in the way of my goals? Why, what a timely…time for this experiment to feature a blog post about goals. For those of you who want to see where challenge/experiment came from and missed my first post, check out my dear friend Deb’s original blog post for this week. She’s the creator of this experiment and has done all twenty-three of the writing prompts (with some damn impressive results, I might add) so I’ve decided I got a situation what needs fixing, so this is part of how I’m gonna do it. I’m likely gonna come up with a more succinct and uniform way to explain these and link to her posts but for now, we’re still beginning the beginning, so longhand it is.

What do you want to accomplish in 2012 using both magical and mundane means?  

From here, as she did with the first, she lists some helpful influences: dieties/moon phases/days of the week/inspirational song for your brainmeat. For me, though, I generally let the universal mind guide me. (Well, y’know, once I’ve managed to control  my urge towards procrastination, and kick my own ass out of a depression/anxiety spiral.) But she had to go and mention music. Oh, the music for this one. I read ahead a few days ago to prep for what was coming next and saw the song she suggested. Florence + the Machine’s What the Water Gave Me. Most times, when I’ve read the title and listened to the song, cause I’ve been a fan of Florence + the Machine for years, my associations are mostly with bodies of water. And I feel very akin to bodies of water. I adore swimming. I was a water fitness instructor. I go to the ocean when I need to find my inner zen. So that’s what I normally associate with “water”. So I was thinking about that this week, but it never really stuck. Until today. Do you know what happened today? A BOMB CYCLONE of snow. And y’know what snow is? D’ya pick up what I’m putting down?

Snow has not ever been the first thought I had when listening to this song, but today…it just fit. And the snow/water gave me a lot today.

First, it gave me…a NON-snow day! I had to go into work. But honestly…it didn’t bother me. Last night, my boss changed our training destination to a place that was more Northern than our usual Southerly Thursday training location because reports were coming in that the BOMB CYCLONE (side note: first THUNDERSNOW, now BOMB CYCLONE. I don’t know when weather phenomenon started being named like Coney Island rides or metal bands, but I am All In for this trend.) was going to be worse lower in the state, so that was nice. And though the roads were a little rough, I don’t mind driving in the snow, so I got in fine. We had a slightly abbreviated training and then got sent home in the early afternoon.

And once I got home, I decided to make the most of what the water was giving me:

Time.

Clear as literal day Opportunity. Daylight where not only did I not have to go anywhere else, I truly shouldn’t go anywhere else. Hours to do things I’ve been trying to get myself to do, and have only barely begun to do, the things I know I NEED to do to really kick this magical radical transformation into high gear.

So. I ate a quick, weird lunch (a chicken cutlet and a banana), grabbed a bottle of water, and told my husband (who’d also got sent home early) that I was going upstairs to do some cleaning.

AND I ACTUALLY DID IT!

Slowly, organically, I listened to what the water was telling me. I lit incense and a candle. I put on Florence + the Machine. I drank the water. And started cleaning. My bedside table. The top of the chest at the foot of the bed. The cluttered area with a random tote of costumes and shoes. The stack of suitcases from the former life/old job/previous year’s events that I had at least finally emptied out weeks ago but hadn’t managed to actually put the suitcases themselves away. All done. Also decked out my new uke hardcase with even more buttons than my old one had, which, incidentally, was now the best specialized toy bag for my long impact toys that wouldn’t fit in my other two, smaller toy bags. I took pictures the incense and candle on my altar. I danced. I texted a few friends. I cleared space and physically started moving myself into the future. I’m not fully sure what I’m moving towards, but finally, finally the gnawing calling is stronger than the fear, the procrastination, the depression/anxiety, the grief.

Don’t get me wrong. There’s still a fuckton of grief. There are relationships that feel like they’ve entered their last dying gasp and not ending the way I ever wanted or thought they would. There’s so much loss that I’m constantly struggling to process. But I keep pushing through. And thankfully, this challenge is one of the things helping to push me through.

Speaking of, we’ll get back to what else the water gave me today. But let’s actually cover the meat of this week’s prompt: Goals.

Here are the four top questions (and all their important sub-questions) that she listed for the prompt:

How are you going to accomplish these large goals in your daily life?  You need to start breaking it up into bite sized pieces.  Our particular Experiment goes until Valentine’s Day.  What can you reasonably expect to accomplish by then?  How will you do it?

  1. What magical acts (rituals, spellwork, whatever it is you do) can you do to help you accomplish this goal?  If you are into Planetary magic, you may want to consider looking into the Gates work that RO does to help you accomplish your goals.  Thinking strategically in magic isn’t something that comes naturally to a lot of us either.  Check out Jason’s books on Strategic Sorcery if that’s something you need some guidance on.
  2. Use your preferred method of divination to figure out both what you can do to make sure these goals will happen and also to figure out what road blocks keep you from this.
  3. Consult whatever inner or outer spirits you may work with as to what’s blocking you from achieving your goals.  If you’re the meditative type, when meditating consult your spirits there.  If you aren’t the meditative type, when you are just about to drift off to sleep when your mind is relaxed, ask what’s preventing you from achieving these goals.  In terms of “who” you’re asking, you can ask personal spirit guides or god/dess/es, your Younger Self, Talking Self, and Higher Self or even personifications of the traits you’re either trying to emulate or discourage.  Whatever works for your personal cosmos.

For #1, since I started a few weeks after she did, I’m gonna be going to the end of February…or possibly the beginning of March, which I think is appropriate for me. I’ve been gearing up for a winter of Work, inner and outer, and as I said before, this will help guide me. But breaking it down into more bite-sized pieces is going to be a challenge in and of itself.

In my last post, I wrote that these things are the most important to me:

music, writing, spirituality, authentic connections, emotional support, constructive selfishness (a phrase I learned from my therapist today and holy fuck, is it a great concept. Like self care, but…bigger.), kink, creativity, becoming healthier.

That’s a lot to tackle in twenty-one weeks. I’mma group things to make it a little more manageable:

  • Creativity – music, writing, drawing
  • Spirituality – practicing more, meditating again, yoga
  • Kink – honoring all sides of the slash, seeking out play, educating myself more about the scene, honing my classes
  • Health – mental, physical, emotional
  • Authentic Relationships – better communication, being my most authentic self, fixing my own fuck ups and holding others accountable for theirs, seeking better connections and not settling
  • Cleaning – organizing, downsizing, not living like a trash panda

Eventually, I’m hoping following these things will help me get on the path to my next career and back on my Path towards the Destiny I have. I’ve gotten so many signs that lately that I have one, I just don’t fully know what it is. But I’m working on it.

So! Let’s go even more bite-sized.

  • Creativity
    • music: practicing uke 5x per week for at least 20 minutes, making at least one video a month of uke playing/singing and posting it somewhere on the interwebs, crafting new burlesque routines
    • writing: this prompt will take care of once a week for twenty-three weeks. I’m also signing up for Cannonball Read
    • drawing: I’m planning on announcing a project I have for myself on FB soon that will help with all the creativity and the authentic connections.
  • Spirituality
    • these writing prompts are helping me practice more
    • reading Deb’s book Glamour Magic: The Witchcraft Revolution to Get What You Want (which will also help the creativity, as I’ll be writing a review of it for Cannonball Read)
    • seeking out tarot and continuing with my Angel divination deck
    • intentionally visiting nature more
    • trying to find another yoga instructor/class
    • meditate again (this one’s hard because it’s tied to kink for me in that I meditate best on my knees. But I have some difficulty with kneeling currently, from a combination of knee pain I should try to overcome and some recent grief associated with some relationship issues)
  • Kink
    • seeking out play that will put me on both sides of the slash
    • seeking out people I can bounce with
    • actually writing up and posting my class descriptions
    • applying for at least one event
    • reaching out to people in the scene to learn more
    • reading more
    • taking more photos
  • Health
    • mental/emotional – therapy, letting go of the past, allowing myself to feel my emotions as they happen, all the others help with this one, too
    • physical – more activity. Current job will help with this. Once I am out of training, walk around floor for at least 20 minutes a day. Eating better. Taking gluten, sugar, and dairy mostly out of my diet. Drinking more water
  • Authentic relationships
    • seeking out the people who are authentic in my life
    • moving away from those who aren’t
    • making sure I am clear to the universe that these two things are my intention
    • making myself vulnerable
    • work on holding space for myself and for others in pain
    • personal responsibility
    • gratitude. Endless gratitude and expressing it to the authentic, glorious people in my life
  • Cleaning
    • organizing costumes
    • organizing closet
    • donating items
    • selling things
    • coming up with a schedule for regular household cleaning

So this is a lot. And I haven’t even fully gotten to numbers three and four yet. But I think those are things I’m gonna think on for the next week. Also going to have a smaller, more manageable list of quantifiable goals by next week, as opposed to this ginormous, all over the place list.

For now, I just want to list some of the little victories I’m seeing as I feel myself redirecting back on the Path towards these goals. Today I:

  • made myself a hot breakfast before work instead of not eating or buying crap from Dunkin’
  • went to work in BOMB CYCLONE
  • ate a reasonable, if not weird, lunch
  • started a pile of clothing I’m giving away/selling
  • relocated a few things that’ve been laying around the bedroom to their rightful places in the house
  • cleaned off my bedside table
  • cleaned off the chest at the foot of the bed
  • had tea and finished reading the first book of 2018
  • practiced uke
  • wrote this post
  • did laundry (might’ve ruined a new pair of pants in the process, but we’ll see)
  • texted/messaged some friends
  • talked some to nesting partner and spent some quality time over dinner with them

This is long. And I’m tired, as it’s 1:41am. But I’m doing it. Slowly, surely, I’m getting back to it all. For me, this time. Not for anyone else.

New Year, New ME, bitches. Let’s do this.

A small but powerful message from the Moon.

Moments of magic aren’t always big powerful rituals, a coven in a darkened room/ wood, all pageantry and pomp.

Sometimes, moment of magic and following the Path include letting the Universe know you’re terrified about leaving the job you’ve had for nearly five years, the people you’ve grown to love, the communities you helped build. That yes, you’ll still be part of those communities and those people you love say they’ll love you back in Life After The Change, but you don’t know what that will look like until it happens. Or doesn’t.

Before this year, I hadn’t practiced in…years. I’m embarrassed to say that I let other people shame me out of my faith at one point, and after that…well, life got in the way. I let life get in the way. But gradually, I’ve been finding my way back to the Path. I’ve also been learning to trust my instincts again more as I catch up to where I am and what I’ve learned when I thought I wasn’t practicing but actually, kinda was. But that’s another story.

Finding my way back today meant throwing fear and insecurity and anxiety out to the Universe on a mundane drive home from the grocery store and suddenly…the clouds cleared, revealing a luscious, one-night-shy-of-full Moon. And as I stared in awe, grateful for the red light that afforded me the opportunity, a feeling of calm washed over me and a voice, maybe your my subconscious, maybe the Universe, maybe the Moon herself, quietly quelled me.

It will be okay. I don’t know how, but it will be okay. You will be okay. 

Just start.

My best friend sent this to me today after I sent him an email jam-packed with pain that I’ve been having a hard time articulating.

Start now.
Start where you are.
Start with fear.
Start with pain.
Start with doubt.
Start with hands shaking.
Start with voice trembling but start.
Start and don’t stop.
Start where you are, with what you have.
Just . . . start.

-Ijeoma Umebinyuo

When I first read it, paralysis side-swiped me. But I’ve surrendered to it, and marinated in it, and as I was cruising a website, I remembered something about someone I recently met. That they’re a photographer. And the description of how they shoot and how they regard their models was enough to make me at least reach out and inquire about what it would take to do a shoot. Because I made a promise to myself earlier this year to work for: 

Radical personal body acceptance including:

  • more photo shoots
  • more acceptance of the three parts of my body I have the most trouble loving
  • actively hone body self confidence and increase time spent with people who bolster that in me and themselves and others

Also, it made me look up Ijeoma Umebinyuo and holy fuck, she amazing and now I need to read her book.

And even though I updated the list that promise was part of in March, to include a resurgence of interest I had then in sex, that part didn’t change.

I realized, I’m also starting in other ways, recently, too. I’m pursuing some play opportunities with old and new friends, writing ISOs for events again, and I made arrangements to go a new(ish) kink event with a friend next weekend.

It might be time for a 3/4 year check in post for that bucket list, now that I think about it, because I’ve also discovered two things that weren’t on my radar when this year began that I now want to try. Also, I’m behind in reading and want to kick my own ass into gear for that.

Now I just also have to figure out how to take better care of my body. Been trying to take better care of my mind. Got a therapist, who’s awesome. Started writing more, including writing about my pronouns and struggle with gender. I want to write more even more frequently, and I’m trying to write more songs. Went to a song writers meet up a few months ago. Have to go back soon. Also sang in public on the boardwalk. Want to do that again soon. Have been trying to find different ways to communicate with people to get needs met. Trying to make my life better. It just hurts a lot and is really difficult right now. But.

I’m starting.

Breathing through change

There’s a website I used to go to every single day. In Chrome, when you frequent certain sites, it will keep eight of them on your home screen when you open the web browser. This particular website used to battle out the first position with my work email inbox and Facebook. Sometimes, a little commentator voice would go off in my head, keeping track of the ranking. “Well, it looks like Facebook has pulled ahead of Work and The Other Website. Perhaps you should be doing more work, or visiting The Other Website more! Nope! Facebook has stayed in the lead for two days now! Way to waste time!”

But generally, The Other Website would win. And seeing it there everyday was a reminder. A glorious cluster of colorful pixels that reminded me of something good that touched my core. That I had wanted for so long. That safe space was created, and it was a click away, cutting through hundreds of miles.

However. Due to life, this website had been slipping in the ranking for the past few months as I less and less frequently went to it. One day last week…for the first time ever, I opened the browser and it just…wasn’t there. I burst into tears like a proper adult who’s heart had cracked.

My phone has forgotten some words I used on a regular basis, too. When I first realized that, there were more tears. There’s been a lot of crying lately. Also a lot of change. And more to come, likely. Well, definitely. Life is always changing. Always evolving. Even now, the situations above with the website and my phone…those are also still evolving.

But additionally, there’s been a fuckton of other shifting over the past few months, too. I can’t keep track of it all, sometimes.

It just…hurts. And it’s not just the website or the words or any one change…but moreso what they represent. Communication is good, though. Because it means that I can express some of this and there might be hope for things. I’ve had to process a lot to find my way to the words so I can communicate to those around me.

Back when I was a water fitness instructor, one of the things they drilled into us was to remind our students to breathe. People who are learning something new, or concentrating, or exercising will often hold their breath and that’s…less than optimal for a workout. Also, fainting on land is one thing. It gets way more complicated real quick if they go down in the water. So at least three or four times during my classes, I would remind people to breathe. Thankfully, no one went under on my watch.

Which is funny, because half the time I was reminding them to breathe, I was also reminding myself.

It’s even more hysterical when you factor in the fact that I’m a trained singer and while I’ve been breathing into my diaphragm for nearly 30 years, I still have issues with breath control. With lots of preparation, I can sustain long notes or a good vibrato, but it takes a lot of concentration. You’d think after so many years singing, it would be easier.

Earlier this year, I was loaned Urban Tantra, a book I’ve been wanting to read for a while now. I’m about four chapters in and frozen…it’s the chapter on breathing. Different kinds of tantric breath. My brain just…shuts down. I don’t know why.

Earlier this year, I turned 40. A kind numerology expert gave me a reading as a present and one of the key elements she saw was that I had to focus on breathing and movement.

It’s like this is a theme for me or something.

Clearly, when there are so many changes swirling around me, I should be breathing more. Deeper. Deliberately. I know it. Reminders are all around me. On my playlist, Pearl Jam, Scarlet Sails, and Hedwig tell me. I’ve got friends who remind me. And still, it’s so fucking hard. My body just keeps wanting to curl into a protective ball, not breathe too much, or say too much, and hope that the hurt, the confusion, the feeling of constantly walking in a field of landmines will just go away.

Of course, it doesn’t work that way in real life. There’s too much shit to do.

So I’ve spent nearly two decades, and especially the last five years, trying to unlearn and undo these impulses. I’ve forced myself to interact more, though a diagnosed anxiety disorder also makes this challenging. But when it comes to certain things, like music, or sex, or D/s, or writing…I still sometimes hold my breath, retreat, and just hope that the changes I feel won’t be as bad as they seem. That not yet another thing or person or dynamic that I love will be taken away from me, or leave, or fade.

Recently, my best friend took me to Santa Fe for my 40th birthday. It was an incredible experience but I found myself overwhelmed a lot, which has been happening a whole bunch lately. Visiting new places, the architecture, the art, the altitude, the aromas, the energy, the music, the people, the travel, the changes to routine, all co-mingling with the life shit that was already in my brain before I went.

But. For the first time in a long time, I was able to get through most of the overwhelming by breathing in Santa Fe. Deep, deliberate breaths – in through the nose, out through the mouth. My therapist said it might’ve been a little easier with the drier air. She said the humidity in this area can sometimes make it more difficult to breathe with intention. Not impossible, just challenging. So the best I can do is be aware of it. Try extra hard to breathe better, more frequently, more fully. It doesn’t make the changes directly easier…but it sure as hell is helping me open up to them and embrace the unknown a little.

Vulnerability: the Self-Vivisection of Music, Submission, and Love

“You know….you clearly don’t know what it takes for me to be bold.”
-from the song “I Found a Boat” by Scarlet Sails

Holy fuck, I sang on the boardwalk Sunday night. In front of people. I wasn’t sure if it was going to happen. I mean, some part of me knew it would eventually happen, but I wasn’t certain it was going to be this past Sunday.

See, I’ve been talking with a friend about performing; they invited me to join them on the boards since they have a busking license. A few months ago, I asked them if they would learn the guitar part of a song for me that I really feel the need to sing and hear every damn day. I’m trying to learn it on guitar, but it’s slow going, so I was hoping they could help me get out there. So we set up time to rehearse for this past Sunday. Spent some time singing the harmonies together on a song they wanted to sing lead on, a few times over, and I played some stuff for them, and we worked on the song I asked them to learn. It was great. It was beyond great. It was something I’d dreamed about for decades…singing and playing with another musician in this way.

And then they asked if I wanted to go out and busk. Like…right then. That day.

The “sure” that flew out of my mouth surprised both of us, apparently. It seems I just….had found a pocket of courage and decided to run with it. I’ve wanted this for so long. To sing in front of people like this.

Now, some of you who know me might be all like, “but you’re a burlesque dancer who sings!” Or, “but you’ve been in choirs and musicals!”

And you’re absolutely right. However, there’s always a kind of character involved. Always someone else. And even when I was myself, like in choirs, I was still…part of the choir. Which isn’t me, right? It’s a group. I can blend in. Even when I’ve done solos…I was a bundle of nervous…but, it’s still with the choir. I know, I know…it’s weird.

There are just so many facades; this way, I don’t have to actually, fully be vulnerable. Because obviously, the world would end. Or at least that’s what my fears and anxieties scream at me. I mean, the actual world we all live in wouldn’t end. Cause, duh. No matter how illogical my fears are, I know that the world does not revolve around me.

But my world, the world where I have people in my life that I care about, things I enjoy doing, (or people whom I enjoy doing and things that I care about…y’know six of one…)…it feels like it would all come crashing down. I battle Imposter Syndrome on a regular basis. I also have a diagnosed anxiety disorder, as well as clinical depression. On top of all that, I’m an introvert.

They’re all managed. Mostly. But management is not a cure. It doesn’t all just magically go away. I’ve worked my ass off for over two decades to learn, to grow, to manage, to adapt, to push myself outside of comfort zones and try to open up.

However, there’s still an underlying, paralyzing fear that all the people I care about would leave if they knew what I really felt. The crippling fear and panic I deal with every day that I try to bury under all the layers of socially acceptable I slather on. The smiles, the banter, the glamour, all like a duck trying to swim so smoothly on the surface, but hiding the frantic feet churning water as fast as possible to stay ahead of everything, seek out every possible threat, protect myself in all the ways I learned when I was a kid.

The thing is…I made a decision a long time ago that I didn’t want to hide from pain. Or fear. Or, basically who I am and the things I am passionate about. I wanted to face it all head on. I’ve learned that courage is not the absence of fear, but the persistence to keep going, Do The Thing, even when you’re shaking and terrified. I’ve worked for years, on therapist’s couches, in cars on long drives talking with people I trust, over the course of hours and days in solitude crying and processing, and in so many other ways, to keep opening myself up. Over and over. Some things are easier than other to talk about, act on, be. I am very comfortable being a creative, polyamorous, kinky, pansexual gray ace.

However, I’ve realized there are three basic things that strip that all comfort away from me: submission, music, and love.

Writing, art, dance, and creativity in general are ways I peel off certain layers, but submission, music, and love are the ones that cut to the quick, tap a vein, and various other metaphors that try to explain how I feel like I’m cracking open my chest and leaving all my gooey innards on display in some weird self-vivisection. Making the parts that people don’t see completely vulnerable. The parts I try to hide, because life has taught me when you let people see those things, it hurts. They laugh, they leave, or…they let you know that it doesn’t matter to them. That is probably the one that hurts the most. The indifference. It sounds stupid to admit…but I want to matter. I want to be valued. And at certain times, in certain ways, with a few people…desired.

Submission is one of the quickest ways to, appropriately, bring me to my proverbial knees. Some people have made the mistake of thinking that submission is weakness. Which is bullshit. Submission is absolutely not weakness. It’s been said before, by multiple people in many places, but I will say it again: You cannot take power away from the powerless. There is a core of strength and solidity to submission that is anything but weak. There is also tremendous vulnerability in submission.

There have been very few people in my life with whom I resonated in any way as a submissive. For various life reasons, my submission is beyond back-burnered. I’m grateful for all the experiences and the people I have resonated with, as my submission is something I guard very closely and wound up shutting down for a few years because it just hurt too much and I also battled some serious “I’m a terrible submissive so why bother?” demons. I’m especially grateful for the people who helped bring my submissive out of hiding. There was a brilliant combination of some gentle coaxing, some distinct challenges issued, some blunt truth, and a hefty dose of magic involved and all that has given me the courage to be open to the rare times I do get to be submissive and also hold out hope that one day I will have opportunities to be submissive more regularly.

When it comes to love, you’d think I’d be more…skilled and less scared in regards to it, being polyamorous for over 15 years. But no. There’s still true terror. I continually push myself past it, as best I can, but it’s always there. I’m realizing lately that there is part of me that struggles to feel worthy of the people I love. Like…I think they’re wonderful. But why would they want me? Also, it’s fucking hard to admit that I…have desires. That I want things. Sometimes it’s hard to figure out what they are, and then once I do….communicating them is terrifying. It’s one part being an adult and being prepared to hear “no” because that’s always a possibility and one should know how to hear that maturely, and one part, “omg, what if they want that, too?!” I mean, it should be awesome if they want the same thing, right? But then my brain goes, do they really want it? Why do they really want it? If they wanted it, why didn’t they say something? It all boils down to a baseline fear of do they really want me? And if signs are pointing to yes…why do they want me? Followed by, but sure and then they’re going to leave. There are some people who’ve come into my life that I constantly have to shout down the jackass parts of my brain about. I might’ve written a little about it here. Constant process, learning to love myself.

And then there’s music.

Dear *insert dieties here*, music. They say that scent is one of the most powerful memory triggers, but for me, the most powerful is music. A certain song can throw me backward 20 years. When I find myself falling in love with someone, I go on a quest for music (and sometimes the music gets delivered right to me, which is AWESOME) to help me understand what this particular type of love means to me. I also look to music to help me process most emotions or to amplify certain emotions. I’m forever grateful to people who’ve introduced me to types of music or certain groups/performers that I hadn’t experienced before. There are certain singers/bands that will always be entwined with specific people because they’re the ones that exposed me to that music. My best friend has said that I experience the world through music and I think it’s true. It’s my first filter. I often think in song lyrics. They’re flying around almost always in my head. Music is infused in all I do.

And when I write my own stuff, and sing it…it’s…it’s like stripping away everything and flashing the world with my soul. It’s immediate. Visceral. I can’t hide behind the covers, a computer screen, nor sprint for the nearest door. I mean, I guess I could run and hide. But if I’m committed staying there and singing…it means I’m actively choosing to stay and be seen. It’s one of the purest forms of sharing. It’s so raw.

Sometimes it feels obscene to be that raw. Like, surely there are propriety laws or at least common social mores to observe. Someone is going to accuse me of, like, corrupting minors or breaking a law, right?

And because the Universe works in mysterious wonderful ways and helps to keep you on the path of opening up when you decide to, I found this poem on a friend’s FB earlier this week when I started writing this post. I now need to look up the works of Nayyirah Waheed.

Aaaaaand speaking of the Universe and its mysterious wonderful ways, also as I was in the process of writing this, I was reintroduced to this quote:

“Most people believe vulnerability to be weakness, but really vulnerability is courage. We must ask ourselves, are we willing to show up and be seen?”
– Brene Brown

Sounds similar to what I had said above about not being able to take power from the powerless and how submission is not weakness, either. It’s all connected. And at least for me, in my heart…music, submission, and love are points of vulnerability. Opportunities for courage. Offering another fucking opportunity for growth.

And man, this year has been one of grieving, change, and growth. I sometimes can’t keep up with all the emotions/experiences and being an empath on top of it makes it even more challenging. I’ve also been traveling a lot lately, and it’s difficult to be traveling with people I care about and not always be sure what to do with all the conflicting things that I’m trying to process. The past and the present and the future all swirling together. There have been many tears and only a few answers so far, and I get so frustrated with myself when I can’t control the damn tears.

Vulnerability means that I can’t always close myself back up the way I used to. It means sitting with the grief and uncertainty and insecurity and figuring out how to proceed. Sometimes it fucking sucks. Sometimes, though, it means other things. Like creating music with someone you respect, trust, and care about and just…being seen. When it’s that, it’s fucking awesome.

Sunday was fucking awesome.