Posts filed under Relationships

Mourning Loss

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    Mourning loss is something that many people I know are doing now.  It may be a job, a relationship, a life partner, a parent, a dream, a goal or former selves.  I never know what to say to myself even to make it better because time seems the only salve.  Sometimes there seem no right words.

Mourning loss is something that many people I know are doing now.  It may be a job, a relationship, a life partner, a parent, a dream, a goal or former selves.  I never know what to say to myself even to make it better because time seems the only salve.  Sometimes there seem no right words.

LOVE ləv/ noun 1. an intense feeling of deep affection. 2. a person or thing that one loves.

TRUST trəst/ noun1. firm belief in the reliability, truth, ability, or strength of someone or something

DESIRE dəˈzī(ə)r/ noun1. a strong feeling of wanting to have something or wishing for something to happen.

PROMISE ˈpräməs/noun1. a declaration or assurance that one will do a particular thing or that a particular thing will happen.  

Verb 1. assure someone that one will definitely do, give, or arrange something; undertake or declare that something will happen.

JOY joi/ noun1. a feeling of great pleasure and happiness.

SUSPICION səˈspiSHən/noun1. a feeling or thought that something is possible, likely, or true.

BETRAY bəˈtrā/ verb1. expose (one's country, a group, or a person) to danger by treacherously giving information to an enemy.

LOSS lôs,läs/noun1.the fact or process of losing something or someone. 2. the state or feeling of grief when deprived of someone or something of value.

DISAPPOINTMENT disəˈpointmənt/noun1.the feeling of sadness or displeasure caused by the nonfulfillment of one's hopes or expectations. 2. a person, event, or thing that causes disappointment. 

plural noun: disappointments

PAIN pān/ noun 1. physical suffering or discomfort caused by illness or injury.

SADNESS ˈsadnəs/noun the condition or quality of being sad.

SICKNESS ˈsiknəs/ noun 1. the state of being ill. 2. the feeling or fact of being affected with nausea or vomiting.

7 STAGES OF GRIEF:

1. SHOCK & DENIAL

2. PAIN & GUILT

3.  ANGER & BARGAINING

4. "DEPRESSION", REFLECTION, LONELINESS

5.  THE UPWARD TURN

6.  RECONSTRUCTION & WORKING THROUGH

7.  ACCEPTANCE & HOPE

Medical Definition of SUPPORT SYSTEM. : a network of people who provide an individual with practical or emotional support.

SELF-CARE  self-kair/ noun 1. care of the self without medical or other professional consultation.

FORGIVENESS ˌfərˈɡivnəs/ noun the action or process of forgiving or being forgiven.

CLOSURE ˈklōZHər/ noun 1. the act or process of closing something, especially an institution, thoroughfare, or frontier, or of being closed.

ACCEPTANCE əkˈseptəns/ noun 1. the action of consenting to receive or undertake something offered.

FEELINGS ˈfēliNG/ noun plural noun: feelings 1. an emotional state or reaction.

CLEANSE klenz/ verb 1. make (something, especially the skin) thoroughly clean 2. rid (a person, place, or thing) of something seen as unpleasant, unwanted, or defiling. 3. free (someone) from sin or guilt. 

HEALING ˈhēliNG/ noun the process of making or becoming sound or healthy again.

RENEWAL rəˈn(y)o͞oəl/ noun 1. an instance of resuming an activity or state after an interruption.

HOPE hōp/ noun 1. a feeling of expectation and desire for a certain thing to happen.

FAITH fāTH/ noun 1. complete trust or confidence in someone or something.

LOVE /ləv/ noun 1. an intense feeling of deep affection 2. a person or thing that one loves

I have decided to stick with love. Hate is too great a burden to bear.” -Martin Luther King, Jr.

If you can learn to love yourself and all the flaws, you can love other people so much better. And that makes you so happy.” - Kristin Chenoweth

 

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Hug a Weirdo


I’m a weirdo.  It started at an early age.  There are many aspects that make up my weirdo status.  It’s not so much weird as it is the acceptance that I am a proud walking set of contradictions, perfect imperfections and complexities.  So many of us try to hide from our complexities or shield them from those around us so that they are more comfortable.  One would think after a certain age we become too grown to play “societal charades”.  It is very much not so

I recently found out that, once again, my weirdo status caused someone to make assumptions about me (and even make decisions for me based on the assumptions).  I think about how I came to be the me that I have become.  I suppose it’s been caused by any number of my life experiences.  We all are a product of our particular life files, right?  I started off life by never wanting to get in trouble.  I never wanted my parents to be angry at me.  I never wanted to do the wrong thing.  I never wanted to make mistakes. This then extended to the world.  I only wanted people to like me.  I only wanted to be understood as a good person with a great heart.  It bothered me if I thought that people were interpreting who I was in a way that was different than how I perceived myself.   I had a case of giving too many F%$&s about what other people would think.  I like helping others.  This remains to be true.  However, with maturity comes a self-awareness that shifts the way in which I go about things.  I stopped trying to “get straight A’s” from every single person I met.  I was fresh outta f%$&s to give.  Fresh out!

I had a best friend once that was very forceful when it came to getting her own way.  Me being a person who always wanted things to stay on a happy vibe, I would often just go with her flow.  This worked out amazingly excellent for her.  There were peaceful and fun times had among us.  However, sometimes in the midst of our fun times, I’d be miserable.  There were times where I went along with things that I didn’t feel like going with.   It took quite a bit of work on myself to get to the point of saying no if I wasn’t into doing something.  I spent way too many years doing what would make other people happy.  I spent years and years doing what would keep me likable.  I see myself as a likable human and I wanted other people to see me this way also.  I hid who I really was in favor of favorable facades for the public.  Eventually, what happened though was that I found myself holding in resentments for allowing myself to ignore my own truth.  It was with this best friend that I got my first practice at defending strange little ole me.  I learned through my interactions with her how to push through the uncomfortable feelings I had about causing conflict.  I started speaking honestly and directly to other people as well.  Like anything, it started getting easier the more I did it.

 

At present, it is very easy for me to say in a very clear and direct way what is on my mind.  It drives me a little crazy inside listening to people talk around a topic or hem and haw while they try to get a point across.  It drives me even crazier having to deal with someone who flat out tries to avoid conversations that may be difficult but necessary.  Being a fairly direct person is something that people both appreciate and can’t stand about me.  This depends on the person and the circumstances of the exchange, of course.  Often, I choose silence for the sake of my own peace of mind.  There are times where it serves me better to stand off to the side and observe quietly.  At all times, whether silent or direct, it is a choice coming from inside myself.  We all have to navigate the world that we are in.  Many of us have to navigate numerous worlds.   The joy of working to get to a place where I am able to make choices for myself is that I get to keep feeling peaceful inside either way.   The discomfort that my directness or my silence may cause others is not my work to do. 

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I recently went to a church service that I absolutely under normal circumstances would not choose to be at.  However, my niece wanted me to see her perform as part of the youth day.  I went to church.  Sat quietly and was polite to everyone that I encountered.  I got to see my niece perform.  She saw that I was there like I said I would be.  I was peace filled in my heart, despite my disdain for this place and the people who run it.  I sat in the service sending love vibes out to everyone in the building.  Damn my opinions, ultimately, people come here so they can make it through the week or their lives.  Hey, life is hard, whatever gets you through…  While I make it my business to make choices that are right for myself, I also understand that life isn’t ALL about me.  At that moment, the love I have for my niece outweighed the negative feelings I have about church and the Bible, in general, and this church in particular.  This is the joy of being a thinking human being.  Nothing is black and white.  Communication reveals way more than assumptions ever can.  If only this person had the courage to have honest conversations with me they would understand this and so much more about me.  Honestly, it just felt like a scapegoat, a cowardly way of dealing with the situation.  If someone feels ill will towards me, it will be because of the truth not a lie.  Happiness is being mature enough to pick your battles. 

I am blessed to have found a place as a weirdo among weirdos (I am surrounded by the most talented, quirky and driven creative people ever).  However, we still have to navigate in the world at large.  I end up in different worlds socially and professionally.  I get invited back often, so I must be doing something right.  As frustrating as it gets to be constantly judged and misinterpreted, it’s even greater joy to have enough self love to wave my weirdo flag proudly despite it.  If you’re out there looking for the perfect mate, maybe look outside your self imposed box.  Weirdos can be pretty loveable!  If you’re a weirdo and you know It clap your hands *clap, clap*, if you’re a…  Wait.  Is that weird? Never mind…

Submission and Power Exchange

 

“I stand behind you because I trust you to lead the way.  I lead the way because; I know you have my back.” – The Dish with Ward & June

It’s been my experience that a good sub is hard to find but hard subs abound.  Every person exposed to “a million shades of what you will” is creeping slowly out of hiding to seek safe spaces to explore alternative lifestyles.  But are they really?  There is a breed of people calling themselves submissive.  However they are not looking for any type of power exchange.  Power Exchange can happen without there being any stereotypical “kink” involved.  Not everyone is into everything.  This is why it’s important to be clear about how you want Power Exchange to be played out on your relationships.

  

Or when she says Good Boy or when...  ;-)

Or when she says Good Boy or when...  ;-)

 

I’ve had some very odd approaches from potential subs recently.  One was just downright creepy and weird.  Several emails a day only about all the sexual ways in which he would please me (how would he know when we’ve never had that kind of conversation?).  Face to face he had a scary unwavering, stare that sent the warning sirens from the depths of my soul blaring.  Could I end up in Tupperware containers labeled by body parts???  …or something like that. 

I was perplexed why a submissive would assume that he knew what would satisfy a Dominant’s desires.  This is not “one size fits your limited fantasy”.  A Domme/sub (D/s) relationship is not about absolute rule like a Master/slave relationship (even within that BOTH parties have to agree to it).  It’s my personal belief that people in relationship with each other get to create their own unique “contracts”, so to speak.  There is definitely a mutual exchange that happens within D/s.  Everyone should be getting their needs met.  However, a basic principle of a D/s Power Exchange is the strong desire the sub has to please and be led by their Dominant.  Yes, submissives get to let their Dominant partner know what they do and do not want.  The Dominant partner should know the hard and soft limits of their submissive.  However, ultimately it is about the submissive deriving satisfaction from being of service to and guided by their Dominant.

 

 

 

There are no cut and paste ways to be a submissive.  Every relationship is going to have unique dynamics.  However, these are always five great elements for a submissive to consider within a Power Exchange relationship with a Domme:

1)     Integrity – Do what you say you will do.  Whether you deem the commitment small or a big deal, keep your word.  A good sub will own up to it to their Dominant, even if they would never find out.  Short comings should be addressed according to the agreement made between the two of you.

2)     Honest & Open Communication – Dommes are not clairvoyant.  Be open, honest and clear about yourself to your Dominant partner.  A small lapse in communication can easily be interpreted as purposeful insubordination.  Communication bridges the gap between what it means to be a sub behaving badly or needing a specific kind of guidance. 

3)     Trust – The space shared between Domme and sub should be the safest place in the world.  A sub should know for sure that only their best interests are being considered by their Dominant partner.  A Domme may push the edges of a sub’s comfort levels but never put them in harm’s way.  Part of leading the way is having a sincere interest in seeing your sub win.  Are their areas of improvement being worked on within this D/s exchange?  A sub may bring an issue to their Domme.  A Domme may initiate something that they think will improve their subs life: ie… goals, nutrition, making/breaking habits.  The sub knows that there will be after care, especially after intense sessions.

4)     Mutual Respect – None of the above is possible without a mutual respect of one another.  I suppose in commercial dungeons, these rules may or may not apply depending on the situation.  What I’m writing about in this blog are personal interactions.  It would be difficult to trust someone you didn’t respect.  It would be a waste of time to guide someone not worthy of respect.  With this respect comes the ability to lead and be led.

5)    Great Desire to Be of Service – Can a sub’s need to be of service be the intention behind any task their Domme asks of them?  The potentially menial task takes on meaning then.  A sub may despise doing laundry but because it pleases their Domme, it is done with an intention of care.  A sub pleasing their Domme should be satisfaction enough for them.  However, earning rewards for good behavior are a great motivation.  It can be extremely beneficial for a sub to be meticulous with the service they provide to their Domme.
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There is so much focus put on the proverbial “whips and chains” of BDSM.  It feels sometimes like there is more of an interest in a limited and particular “kink” related fantasy.  That type of curiosity could be explored with a pro Domme.  An equally curious partner may present themselves as you go thru your day that you can have occasional play with.  However, by my estimation, it is not satisfactory enough for an interpersonal D/s practice of Power Exchange.  One of my aunts always says, “Every pot has its cover.”  Therefore, whether Dominant or submissive there is no reason to be involved in relationships that doesn’t satisfy you.  Find your perfect match.

 

Dating Women

Romantic Dinner Well, actually, this is about the first date I ever went on with a woman as opposed to dating women in general.

The date was simple. We went to dinner at a very nice restaurant that she chose. She made the reservations. She took care of all the details.  All I knew was how I needed to be dressed & what time to arrive where.  Ahhh, sometimes it's so nice to have it all taken care of & just to have to show up.  There was none of the "What do you want to do? I dunno, what do you want to do?" game played. I despise that game whether dating a man or woman.  Just pick already! Take charge!  And she did.  I love dinner as a date because a) I LOVE Food & b) We have no choice but pay attention to each other (smartphones weren't a big thing then either).  So much can be learned from someone at a meal if it is a new relationship.  It's a great way to relax, be catered to by wait staff  & enjoy each other if it's a more established relationship.  We had a great time talking, cracking jokes, being flirty & sharing thoughts.

Hand

After dinner we went for a walk.  Hand in hand, we roamed around Manhattan continuing the conversation.  My stomach bubbled with butterflies from holding another woman's hand in public.  But then I gave myself a pep talk: I went to art school, we held hands, laid all over &  massaged each other often. I got this! I felt a sudden wetness between my legs. "Whoa, am I that turned on?", was my initial thought. We stopped somewhere so that I could use the rest room. The wetness was not excitement. It was my period. Ugh, *Sigh*. I told her when I got back to her. She said, "Let's go to my place." I agreed & we walked to her apartment. She sat me down & told me to wait. I had no idea what I was waiting for. Being on a date with a woman was a brand new experience so the unknown was exciting. After a few moments, she takes me by the hand, leading me to the bathroom.  It's filled with small, white scented candles.  Steam from the warm shower fills the air.  I turn around to face her with probably the goofiest smile ever.  She shows me a fresh towel folded in the corner waiting for me.  "Enjoy", she says before leaving me to my warm, candle lit shower.  Is this real life?

3 candles

I get out of the shower wrapped in the fresh towel.  She walks me over to her room which has tall, white, seven-day candles lit all around the edges of the room.  She gives me shorts, a t-shirt & invites me to lay down. I do. She leaves again. When she returns she has a hot cup of tea. "Do you want ibuprofen?", she asks. Convinced that I am in a dream I nod yes. She gives me both. After sipping the tea, I lay back down. Why is it that the pain from cramps waits until your eyes have seen the blood to begin? I was fine when I thought I was just excited. She lays down with me.  We spoon and she rubs my stomach until I fall asleep.

This is what hotel bathrooms look like with a ...

I woke up hours later and looked around. The candles were still there though burned markedly lower. This really happened.

ESSENCE REVEALED - Essence Revealed is first generation Bajan born & raised in Boston.  She got her BFA at NYU's Tisch School of the Arts and MA at NYU's Steinhardt School of Education.  Her writing has appeared places such as $pread Magazine, Corset Magazine, BurlesqueBible.com and 21st Century Burlesque.  She now performs & teaches nationally and internationally both solo and as a member of Brown Girls Burlesque.  Her favorite thing to do besides reading is to lay on the beach in Barbados to rest up for a night of calypso dancing.  Help Essence get to the Milan Burlesque Awards!

Female Empowerment

Transient

When I was an undergrad I became a Sexual Health Advocate.  Honestly, I think this is where my interest in helping people talk freely about sexual topics began.  We were put through training and sent off on campus to do various workshops with different groups of fellow students.  It's there that I met Amy Jo Goddard.  I secretly had a crush on her and her girlfriend at the time.  I don't know that I ever told her that.  Hey, Amy Jo, if you're reading out there, yes, it's true :-).  I got to lead workshops about safer sex, sex toys, contraceptive options and I even owned my own plastic speculum which I used in workshops about GYN exam related topics.  We gave people tools to use when communicating about sexual topics with new partners.  We taught  facts and stigmas around STI's.  I even got to teach people how to put a condom on with no hands.  Yes, I've been talking about sex with strangers for a while now.

I wasn't studying anything having to do with human sexuality.  I just was very interested in freeing myself from a very strict up bringing & healing as a sexual abuse survivor.  I was fascinated by the fact that so many people seemed uncomfortable talking about sexual topics.  Volunteering and community service was at the core of who I was.  This was a perfect fuse of all these things.  Amy Jo however was actually studying Human Sexuality.  "How cool was that!" I thought.

I had the opportunity to work with her in a play she wrote, produced and directed called Vulvalution.  It is one of my favorite projects to date because I got to play a very butch character named Blue, *b-boy stance* ;-).  I think it was around that time that she  had a book called Lesbian Sex for Men coming out.  We lost touch soon after that I believe.  Then the Facebooks happened and re-connection happened and lo and behold she was a full-blown sex educating star-uh!  She's even been endorsed by Justin  "Bringing Sexy Back" Timberlake.  Whaaaaat?!?!  Needless to say, this is a totally biased plug but a totally honest evaluation:  Amy Jo Goddard is doing the dern thang.

She has a free class coming up April 3rd at 8pm EST:

Coming Home to Your Sexual Self... When You Didn't Know You Had Left

Free Call on Wednesday, April 3rd with Amy Jo Goddard, Sexual Empowerment Coach Register here.

It can happen so easily -- when sex falls to the bottom of the priority list, when the relationship plateaus, when you look in the mirror and can't remember when the last time was you had amazing sex, powerful orgasms, deep intimacy, and truly satisfying pleasure.

Or when something happens with a partner and you feel knocked off your center, disconnected from your sexual confidence and power.

Could this be you right now? Is it possible that you've left yourself somewhere along the way… perhaps without realizing it?

My friend and colleague Amy Jo is a sexual empowerment coach who does amazing work with women and couples on their sexuality and relationships. And she's offering a free 75-minute call, no strings attached, for people who feel like they've gotten off track sexually and want to find their way back home to a place of radical self-love, authenticity, and openness to all the pleasure, abundance and rockin' great sex that life has to offer. It's called "Coming Home to Your Sexual Self... When You Didn't Know You Left."

What a great topic!  To get on the list for this free call, go here. Come home, beautiful! It's time!

ESSENCE REVEALED - Essence Revealed is first generation Bajan born & raised in Boston.  She got her BFA at NYU's Tisch School of the Arts and MA at NYU's Steinhardt School of Education.  Her writing has appeared places such as $pread Magazine, Corset Magazine, BurlesqueBible.com and 21st Century Burlesque.  She now performs & teaches nationally and internationally both solo and as a member of Brown Girls Burlesque.  Her favorite thing to do besides reading is to lay on the beach in Barbados to rest up for a night of calypso dancing.  Help Essence get to the Milan Burlesque Awards!

Overcoming Jealousy

"Jealousy and Flirtation" depicts a ... What needs to happen within when overcoming jealousy?  I remember what it feels like to have the feeling wash over me at times.  Yet, I've never truly understood jealousy because being in a relationship does not render the rest of the universe unattractive.  Yet, I hear over and over again from some people that they find it disrespectful to have their partner look at another person.  Let's say your walking down the street with your significant other.  A beautiful human comes walking along.  Guy/gal busts their brain cells to look not right, not left but straight ahead.  Guy/gal fails and instant argument ensues.  Accusations of disrespect are thrown.  I never quite understood how acknowledging another person's physical beauty could in any way shape or form be disrespectful to an entire relationship.  The sum total of a relationship has got to hold more weight than that, right?

I wonder if jealous people believed without a shadow of a doubt that they are an amazing partner, the jealousy would still play itself out in this way?  I have long felt like I make a really great girlfriend.  I don't say this to sound arrogant or conceited.  Knowing this does not mean thinking I'm perfect.  In fact, it means that I am very in touch with my imperfections so I work on myself as much as possible.  There may be moments where I feel jealousy.  However, what I do is check in with myself before I react.  Usually jealousy, in my case, means I feel threatened by the attention my partner is giving elsewhere.  Often, it is my ego feeling bruised for not consuming ALL of my partner's attention.  I make it about me and my worth or the lack there of.

The Mask of Jealousy

Jealousy in myself is seldom the cause or fault of anything that someone outside of me did.  It is usually a moment of insecurity.  That is for me to deal with.  It is not something I think deserves an argument.  It is not my partner's job to make sure my self-esteem tank is on full.  If someone is going to leave, they are going to leave.  There isn't enough "guard dogging" in the world that  can prevent it.  In fact, it may push them too it when it had never been an initial goal.  I know, I've had the experience of feeling like if I was going to be constantly accused and have arguments about it all the time, well, mind as well go ahead to justify the stress.

Usually, the check in leads me to remember that the way I am in relationship with people is something valuable.  There is no room for feelings of jealousy after that.  My inner self gets a little swagger: "Go ahead, let 'em try to find another you.  I promise you, you're a rare gem ;-)."  Then all becomes right sized in my world.  How could I possibly think something like looking at another beautiful person speaks in any way about my worth in a relationship?  It cannot.

I REALLY want to hear what people who think jealousy in relationships is justified have to say.  So, what say you?

ESSENCE REVEALED - Essence Revealed is first generation Bajan born & raised in Boston.  She got her BFA at NYU's Tisch School of the Arts and MA at NYU's Steinhardt School of Education.  Her writing has appeared places such as $pread Magazine, Corset Magazine, BurlesqueBible.com and 21st Century Burlesque.  She now performs & teaches nationally and internationally both solo and as a member of Brown Girls Burlesque.  Her favorite thing to do besides reading is to lay on the beach in Barbados to rest up for a night of calypso dancing.

 

Beauty of Feminine

Sweatpants Being a burlesque performer has led me to experience the stark difference in reception I get when in and out of "burlesque drag".  How people perceive feminine beauty is something I purposely mess with.  For years I've heard men say that they don't like women who wear make-up and definitely not women who wear a great deal of it.  However, as I go through the urban jungle of New York my, ahem, field research shows very different findings for me personally.  I know this experience is not the same for all women.  I have a friend who could be wearing a trash bag with a freezer bag hat and would still have to deal with street harassment and cat calling on the street.  However, with me it is a totally different experience.  There have been many a time I show up for a gig casual, get ignored, change into performance mode and get sudden attention.

When I am not in showgirl mode, I trend towards being a no make up wearing sweats/jeans, tee-shirt, sneaker woman.  I've never been the type of woman who would "never leave the house without make up".  I've had those friends.  We are getting ready to run out to the corner store for snacks.  I have to sit and wait for lipstick, mascara, eyebrows, etc all to be applied first.  The thought bubble over my head reads, "Really?!?  Just to go buy some Cheese Doodles?".  But I'd sit and wait patiently.  Whatever makes you happy.  I on the other hand am perfectly happy to roll out in the same grey sweat pants day after day after day with no shame.   When I am dressed down, I can pretty much move through the streets of NYC without being bothered.  Mostly I choose to dress this way because it's comfortable for me.  I admit though some days it's because I'd rather not deal with the harassment.

dressed down

It's  not so shocking to me that no one wants me to "smile" or "have a nice day" or any of the other litany of things I get told, wished or crassly bombarded with.  Perhaps, it is because my casual seems to read as tomboy on most days.  I had the experience recently of standing in a room full of Burlesque folks and very few people recognized me.  One person, who'd seen me perform only the week before said she was wondering who the soft butch lesbian in the corner was.  Hilarity to me.  I often end up in conversations with strangers.  I talk to everyone.  If the conversation leads me to talking about being a burlesque performer or sensual dance/booty twerk teacher, I'll hand them a card.  I forget that the card looks like my on stage persona.  The silent skepticism on their faces reminds me that I look very different to other people.  Enter  Clark Kent/Super Hero joke here.

Photo by Frederick V Nielsen II

I took a business class last year.  Most people were discussing traditional business ideas.  There was a man who was opening a winery, a music school owner, real estate folks, etc.  I talked about Essence Revealed and ideas I plan to create in the future.  After several weeks in the class the instructor said she wanted to have a one on one session with me.  She explained that because she was seeing the entire picture of what I was building.  However, because my classmates do not, I needed to be able to "sell" my classmates and look sexy when I come to class.  Her thought was I needed to sell the image visually.  What's funny is that it never occurred to me that "attractive" or "attracting" needed a specific look.  I feel good when I walk out the door and that's good enough for me.

fred&shelly

It leads to questions for me.  Are people being honest when they say that they don't like women who wear a lot of make-up?  Men, in particular, are very visual creatures.  Does attractive or what is attracting "look" a certain way.  I tend to have "look" fairly low on my what attracts me to someone totem pole.  And also femininity is defined in very limited ways it seems.  Is a woman less feminine dressed down in sweats or is that simply a societal construct.

dressed down 2It has been my experience that only after I am in relationship with someone do they express that they love that I can dress down or "put some sparkle on it".  Very seldom, have I ended up in relationship with someone who met me in my dress down mode.  I don't feel any less of a woman, no matter how tomboy I am dressed.  However, how I'm physically adorned surely dictates whether people feel like they should give me a "pound" or a "hug" as a greeting.  What has your experience been?

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ESSENCE REVEALED - Essence Revealed is first generation Bajan born & raised in Boston.  She got her BFA at NYU's Tisch School of the Arts and MA at NYU's Steinhardt School of Education.  Her writing has appeared places such as $pread Magazine, Corset Magazine, BurlesqueBible.com and 21st Century Burlesque.  She now performs & teaches nationally and internationally both solo and as a member of Brown Girls Burlesque.  Her favorite thing to do besides reading is to lay on the beach in Barbados to rest up for a night of calypso dancing.

Sexual Attraction

The Kinsey Scale attempts to show that sexual attraction does not go only one way for everyone. While extremely limited, it is a start. There are many people attracted to multiple genders. However, the treatment they get within the LGBTQ community is enough to chase a person back into the closet. Some women who are attracted to women are repulsed by the idea of dating men. That then translates into the ill-treatment of women who are attracted to more than just women. If someone is a male who is attracted to multiple genders then the level of disdain raises even higher. A friend and I joke that the B in LGBTQ is silent.

Kinsey's scale of heterosexual and homosexual ...

It took years for me to allow myself to even be open to the idea of dating women. However, all it took was a few weeks being out as someone attracted to two genders for me to believe that I had to "choose a side". At that stage of life, I was fine with dealing with heterosexual people who no longer wanted to talk to me.  I was not at all prepared for the level of passion filled mean this  brought out of some people within the LGBTQ community. I was not strong enough to want to deal with it then.

People that are attracted to more than one gender are judged for being greedy, confused, selfish and unable to be in one relationship.  It's acceptable for them to be the butts of jokes, snubs and downright disgust.   I completely understand, for example, the idea that someone not attracted to men would not want to sleep with someone who does.  I also, though, support people loving who they love no matter the sexual orientation, race, culture, religion or spiritual way of  life, for example.  Someone choosing partners differently than I personally would, doesn't make them bad people.  I always wonder what the point of creating Us Vs. Them dynamics within already marginalized communities is?

Like many people, I have a long list of ways in which I could be marginalized in society (race, sexuality, gender, child of immigrants, burlesque dancer, etc.). However, on an emotional level, the biased treatment pales in comparison to that from some  of the LGBTQ community.  Unlike, say, race attraction to multiple genders cannot be visually determined so it's easier to hide from that judgement.  Or is it?

It was like coming out of the closet all over again when I started dating men and women.  There were people who suddenly stopped talking to me, treated me differently or would do their best not to acknowledge my presence. It was upsetting because all of my relationships have been real.  It was as if they, were now rendered into nothingness.  The good news is that I have grown strong enough that other people's opinions about me hold little weight.  That's their business.   The esteem that I have for myself is what truly matters as I navigate life day-to-day. That's way more than enough for me to wrangle with on some days.  I don't really have the space for entertaining the opinions of others. Most of the labeling doesn't really work for me.

 

Even outside of the LGBTQ community the fun doesn't stop.  Some people assume that because someone is attracted to multiple genders, they are attracted to anyone.  Couples feel free to proposition you with invites to a threesome without any mutual attraction ever being there. Somehow, the person attracted to multiple genders is suspected of being attracted to any and everyone. Women who think it's cool to "mess around" with women but never be in a serious relationship with one pop up everywhere. No thanks. There is an assumption that a monogamous relationship with one sex isn't possible.  Lovers become paranoid:  "I have to worry about you being attracted to men AND women."  Uh, wrong. The only worry is making sure that we are both getting what we need within the relationship. Then there doesn't have to be a worry about anyone. Where does it say that having multiple attraction to humans means no choice in what type of person to date and an attraction to everyone?  Was there a memo, a meeting, an e-mail that I missed?

Things have certainly changed for the better in some ways. For one, I now see queer teen age couples arm and arm on the subway and walking around openly. I realize, though, that I live in a major city with a great deal of LGBTQ support.  So, for the person who does not live in a major metropolis, I pray for a world with acceptance.  For the person who wants to speak their sexual truth, I pray the right circumstances and strength for you to do so. For all of us I pray for the ability to treat people with love or at the very least respect no matter who they love.

I've had more difficulty accepting myself as bisexual than I ever did accepting that I was a lesbian. It felt traitorous. A few years ago, I admitted to myself that I was still interested in men in more than a "Brad Pitt is slick hot sexy" kind of way. But I worried what my friends, exes, and the Community would think. I never even broached the subject with my parents. Because what bothered me the most was that people would think that being a lesbian had been a phase for me, when that was so very not the case. What I feared was that I would no longer be part of a community, that I might be seen with my boyfriend and not be recognized as something not the same. ― R. GayFirst Person Queer: Who We Are (So Far) 

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ESSENCE REVEALED - Essence Revealed is first generation Bajan born & raised in Boston.  She got her BFA at NYU's Tisch School of the Arts and MA at NYU's Steinhardt School of Education.  Her writing has appeared places such as $pread Magazine, Corset Magazine, BurlesqueBible.com and 21st Century Burlesque.  She now performs & teaches nationally and internationally both solo and as a member of Brown Girls Burlesque.  Her favorite thing to do besides reading is to lay on the beach in Barbados to rest up for a night of calypso dancing.

Intimacy in Relationships

Hug This week the slowdown continues.  The dismay of those hit hard by Sandy continues.  There are no words.  Yet, there is an intimacy in relationships that has emerged in different ways.  Parts of New York  look untouched.  Others look like a literal 50 shades of grey.  It's cold and snowing outside tonight.  Many are without heat or electricity.  Too many are without homes to return to.  Yet, people connected, often with strangers.  New Yorkers showed up in droves to volunteer.  So much so that at some sites, there were calls for more resources and less volunteers.  Shared info via the web which could then be shared word of mouth or via the phone to those without connection.

Red sofa

Other people opened their homes.  My apartment is below someone I've known since I was 18.  She is one of my longest friends, yet we can go weeks without seeing each other.  She opened her apartment and it became a safe haven.  I spent a great deal of the storm up there.  We spent time together.  We talked to each other.  We shared music, online videos and stories with each other.  We cooked for each other.  There were several moments of joking and making each other laugh.  Other people came by to warm up, get online or simply break up the cabin fever from being wherever Sandy had landed them.  It was really nice to have true human connection between the anxious checking of the news reports.

There were moments over the days when we all tuned in to doing our own thing. This one watching some streaming program or other.  That one listening to music and social media surfing.  Another one on the phone.  Someone drawing.  Me eating Almond Joys.  Yet, we were all together.  Because time had been spent fully engaging with one another, the moments of shift to individual activity didn't feel like being ignored.  How much time do we take these days to fully engage each other? I can admit this was the first time in a long time I relaxed into not having a busy, tightly booked schedule.  I gave myself the permission to not do anything productive.  I even had some really fun e-mail exchanges with friends and had time to click on links before I reply (yes, it's the little things sometimes that hold the most weight).  I gave myself permission to take care of myself.  I wasn't feeling well but hadn't really slowed down enough to do true self-care.  I gave myself permission to do nothing but care for myself and the people who were around me.  For example, I was bartender, chef, jester, listening ear, crafting buddy, rehearsal mate and allowed the same to be done for me.

Gnocchi Bowl

I've had constant questions swirling around in my head.  This Presidential campaign alone showed me in Technicolor how much time we spend telling other people that what THEY believe is wrong and what WE think is correct.  How often do we take the time to be present and really connect?  No cell phone, no laptop, no technology, just being a focused presence for one another.  How often do we really have conversations?  Are we able to be friends who listen and offer support as opposed to criticism?  Can we hear an opinion that is the polar opposite of ours and simply hear it without feeling the need to defend our own opinions?  Are there times where we exchange what we know to help someone else get where they want to go with no strings attached, expecting nothing in return?  Are we able to really hear when loved ones tell us what they need?  Do we even bother to ask, "How can I support you?"  How can we make our connections romantically, with friends, co-workers or otherwise more intimate?

questions to me

These past few weeks have me savoring the value of truly being present with each other.

Safer Sex

Safe sex Do you practice having safer sex?  I am pro-choice but I have never had abortion.  I have always chosen to have safer sex.  Yet, I've had people with unwanted children judge me for having periods in my adult life where I have chosen to have more than one intimate partner.  I can't help but think, wait, you have a child you didn't plan.  That means, in many cases, that you had unprotected sex.  Don't judge me!  It boggles my brain how many women I hear say, "Well, he's my man so we don't use protection... or Oh, We've been dating/known each other  xyz amount of time."  Last I checked, the number of years we've known someone has no bearing on HIV/AIDS status.  I could be wrong but I don't believe it to be an indicator of the status of any other Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs) either.

I prefer know.  I prefer know for sure.  Therefore, in addition to barrier methods, knowing the status of my partner is a huge part of practicing safer sex.  When we initially meet someone there are numerous bits and pieces of new information about them that we learn.  We know little about them so learning a great deal of new information is par for the course.  There are also an intense collection of  "feelings" (also know as endorphins) that are released when we first fall for someone.  So many of us mistake these "feelings" for love.  It is not love.  It is chemical.  Love is an action verb not a feeling (but that's an entire other blog post).  Love would lead to the action of protecting oneself and one's partner.  I refuse to be led by chemicals.   I must have cold hard facts.  I actually have a rule of not sleeping with someone until I see paperwork of HIV/AIDS status.  I often suggest going to get tested together.

AIDS Awareness

This practice does wonders for sobering the effects of the chemical "feelings".  I've experienced many reactions that have blown me away.  I had people get upset with me for wanting them to get tested.  Did I think they were dirty?  I had people accuse Me of having an STI.  That MUST be why I wanted us to be tested before having sex.  I had one person bluntly tell me they just did NOT want to know.  This person had been trying to convince me to have unprotected sex with them just only moments before.

HIV Testing AD2

Do you trust this new sexual partner with your life?  Remember that the accuracy of testing also depends on honesty.  When was the last time your new partner had unprotected sex?  It can take 3-6 months for HIV to show up in an infected person.  Different STIs have different rates of when they show up in tests.  We no longer only have unwanted pregnancy or STIs that can be healed with antibiotics as potentialities to manage.  Sex and so many topics around sexuality have been so stigmatized in our world, that people rather forego the awkwardness that they project will arise from bringing up safer sex or knowing a partner's status.  It also prevents people from wanting to disclose if they even have an STI for fear of being stigmatized.  Some people say it will kill the mood.  Better the mood killed than you killed, I say.  Besides, these conversations are better had way before the mood is in full effect, right?  While living with STIs and even HIV/AIDS has come a long way, I vote that avoiding transmission is still the best way to go.  In fact, because some people may not see living with HIV/AIDS as a death sentence anymore, we must protect ourselves even more.

HIV Particle

There is freedom in knowing the status of one's partner and vice-versa.  Partners can become closer and sex can become hotter with this knowledge.  While many people who I told about my "test before sex" rule balked at the idea, most admitted to feeling relief and having an added respect for me because of my demand to know for sure.  I won't put the HIV/AIDS/STI stats in this post.  Get thee to Google to see stats and numbers galore.  What I will tell you is that it is sexy and speaks to our high level of self-love to demand a test and at the very least the consistent use of safer sex methods.  Let's start a trend where is it not at all awkward to have these discussions and take these actions.

HIV Swine Flu mask

Here in NY you can get tested for free!  Here is a link for National HIV and STI testing resources.  Here is one more link to an organization called Test Together.  Here's to getting some and being safer  about it ;-)