Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Faith

Faith ..I’ve been musing on it (or the lack thereof) lately. Faith is such a fragile entity, a tender, mutable reality that once shattered, cuts deep.
Faith in a greater being, for instance, once provided what I thought was a bedrock impervious to the movement of earth and time; a solid, real belief that I held to me, warm and solid, in the nights of despair and anguish. Faith was my stalwart companion for a very long time, my right hand, the thing to which I turned not just in times of trouble but during those moments of joyous illumination, a reality that would underline the transcendence of spirit.

There is also faith in self – that vein of self-awareness and introspection that you believe gives you perspective and wisdom. In some ways, the erosion of faith in self is congruent with the loss of faith in that which lies beyond the corporeal reality of our endless days. For only by believing in self and our innate abilities to make reasoned judgments, can we find the courage to believe in something that lies beyond our physical grasp.

There is faith in others also. Faith in our partners (whatever the flavour), in our family, in those we believe care for us, want for us the best. Perhaps because that level of faith is so personal, it is something we can feel, touch, emote and internalize, the erosion of that faith is all the more painful.

Without faith, I find the days lack lustre and depth. There is a greyness to the movement through time that envelops and confuses and licks despair in moments of introspection and awareness.

In hindsight, I very much miss my days of faith; I yearn for the warm comfort, the steadfastness of my devotion, what I thought to be the immutability of my awareness. A world without faith lacks a dimension (at least in my eyes) that brings one beyond the pragmatism of simple existence into a realm that promises something beyond that which can be touched.

The question of course being, how does one regain the ability to believe?

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Queen Maeve

23 years ago today, a much younger me was lying on my bed, watching with an obsessive fascination the rise and fall of a small baby’s chest.

She was born at 2:30 that early Wednesday morning, a screaming, crimson faced 8.8 lbs bundle with flailing limbs and fury spitting from her scrunched, furious face, a shock of luxurient black hair and huge green eyes narrowed in rage.  As she lay there between my legs, thrashing legs and arms in outrage at being summarily pulled into this harsh, glaring, cold world, we watched bemused. The doctor stood there grinning and looking at me, said laughing, “THAT is the most pissed off newborn I have ever delivered!”

From start to finish, the entire experience had lasted a scant three hours and full of energy still, I was entranced… in awe at this new human being we had brought into the world.

I lasted around 7 hours at the hospital, then against their advice, bundled my solid little infant in her new snowsuit, called a cab and went home.  D. had left us around 5 a.m to head home, shower and go to work and didn’t drive at the time regardless; he wanted me to wait but I couldn’t stand the obsessive regimentation of the hospital.  When I was told to wash my breast with “as hot water as I could stand” before offering it to my child, my natural Irish pragmatism, said ENOUGH and off I went.

I didn’t know this day 23 years ago that the path I was taking had just diverged, that as Frost said, my steps turned to the “path less travelled”.

I was focused, somewhat obsessive, incredibly driven and had vision.  I had worked hard to reach the professional level I then enjoyed; head editor of a prestigious forecasting company, respected, incredibly well-paid and on the fast track.  The child was wanted but in my pre-birth mind, was to be fit in around the realities of a job I had spent so many hard years working towards.  I have worked since I was 13 – right through high school, putting myself through two degrees and with drive and ambition forging my way in a man’s world.

And then she arrived.

And my world tilted and the universe shook and life as I knew it irrevocably changed.

All those years of obsessive want became so much powdery dust, blown away in the clarity of her gaze, negligible in the suction of a small mouth on a turgid breast. 

And the ensuing weeks only increased my resolve, deepened my adoration and engendered in me a fierce, enraptured understanding that there was no going back.

And thus, as the scant 16 weeks of maternity leave drew to an end, I sat, grasping my child fiercely to be breast and tears in my eyes, said to D. “ I CAN’T go back! I CAN’T leave her!|”

And he, smiling gently, said “I know, I was wondering when you would figure that out”.

And that week I quit my job, found a night job typing for $50,000 less in salary and never looked back.

Happy Birthday Maeve, my beautiful, brave, fierce daughter.  You have added to my life immeasurably.

Objectification and the Power of ID



It’s no secret that I have some deep-seated and profound objections to being objectified.

Vesta , mouse  and JZ all bring up some concise and illuminating arguments for and against what mouse aptly describes as the “The power of I”.

What is Objectification?

Although not always the case, individuals who enjoy being objectified are often (usually) masochists as well and enjoy the pain caused by the commensurate humiliation which accompanies being objectified as an object – sexually or otherwise - and not as an individual. In essence, my view is that these participants find an emotional and physical excitement in being viewed only as a collection of body parts or non-sentient object and not as a multi-faceted unique human being.

There are, of course, different levels and types of objectification. In some arenas, individuals enjoy being used as actual “objects” – as in coffee tables, ottomans, etc. Releasing them from their “humanity” in essence frees them to enter a meditative state wherein they find a measure of peace.

But the objectification I will address in this blog concerns the creation of a “persona” – inevitably a limited, single-faceted creature with little will and simplistic needs.

Either form of objectification is ultimately limited in scope and duration because reality bites – the demands of time and space force one dimensional creations to take on colour and complexity simply because no one is capable of remaining (nor should they) in a singular mindset.

Unfortunately, serious objectification which is expected to be consistent and constant can be considered ‘edge” play in terms of the massive emotional impact it can have on the individual being objectified.

The Science of “I”

I paraphrase here, but in a nutshell, healthy human growth entails several phases. From birth to around three years old, a child needs to hear and experience, often just through gentle, supportive touch, encouragement, affirmation and support for simply being who he or she IS, their thinking noted and approved – i.e. just for “being” they are being enjoyed, encouraged and supported.

As they grow, children’ needs become more complex. Children, as they grow must learn affirmations for power, structure, separation, sexuality and identity – in essence, they are learning the strength of the “I”. For anyone who has been around children, some of the FIRST words most healthy kids express are ‘MINE”, ME” and “I WANT”. Those are crucial to a healthy development of esteem, strength and purpose.

The human internalization of “self” is, to my mind, a consistent and ongoing part of remaining healthy and contributes to the continued growth and understanding of the individual’s own needs. I also feel strongly that one can only enter into a strong relationship if your own ego is intact and healthy – at least a relationship that has a chance of standing the test of time and the inevitable stress with which every life is inundated to a greater or lesser extent.

Different Perspectives

Mis-use, to my mind, can have a profound and negative impact on any individual’s psyche, sense of self and esteem. Mouse points out her former dominant did exactly that – and rather than using objectification to elicit a sensual and piquant nuance to their relationship, used it as a tool to punish and to suppress her sense of identity.

From a rational perspective, I understand the emotional impact that some receive from being objectified – in one way, it is a form of freedom to have everything that individualizes you discounted, thus releasing you from responsibility for subsequent actions and freeing you from any moral constraints which might impede following a desired imperative.

I think Vesta’s experience to date internalizes much of that. She states “It is an opportunity to feel free and liberated; to live in harmony and at peace.” I don’t in any way wish to disparage or criticize Vesta’s choice and her decision to ostensibly “separate” parts of herself into distinct personalities – it works for her and thus more power to her!

But as is no doubt obvious, I don’t “get it”.

I think life experiences in many cases have a tremendous impact on how an individual internalizes and deals with objectification.

I think in my case, having worked in what was very much a “man’s world” for a good part of my professional life, I quickly learned the negative impacts of being “objectified” as a human being. My ability to write, my intelligence, my coping skills and work ethic were largely irrelevant in comparison to long legs, luxuriant hair and my gender. Being treated as a sexual object when your focus is simply on getting a good story or finding out salient facts about current issues hardly creates a fondness for being seen only in the context of my sexual identity.

On a more internal level, I have always been an introspective, complicated individual who in turn perceives other individuals as similarly multi-faceted. Acceptance and understanding of the myriad complicated and fascinating personality traits of every individual is both a necessity and from a human perspective, crucial to the ultimate comprehension and acceptance of each other’s personal quirks.

Male Perspective

Further, based on some responses I read and other reactions to various articles and blogs I’ve read about objectification, I admit I find it perplexing and frankly, disconcerting that so many self-styled dominants bleat their delight in it!

In one way, I understand it.

Taking the BDSM nuance out of objectification, the presentation of female as object remains a persistent and unfortunate reality both in the past and in the present. Of course I cannot help but surmise that the male ego remains so fragile that many simply cannot deal with the complexity of female psyches. Despite some gains towards equality of gender, the position of females remains inequitable– to a greater or lesser extent dependent on the culture.

When all is said and done, many males simply find the thought of a living, breathing “doll” simply too enchanting for words – after all, what demands does a one-dimensional creature make on a man, either emotionally, physically or spiritually? A “doll” doesn’t need to have her needs taken into consideration; she won’t evaluate or make judgments; nor will “dolls” question or challenge their “owner” in any way.

And, putting the BDSM context back in the equation, anyone who is familiar with the lifestyle ONLY online could not be faulted for thinking THIS lifestyle somehow encourages one-dimensional caricatures! Thank god, those whom I know in the lifestyle in real life are simply other “people” like anyone else – all with their own complicated, multi-faceted quirks! Because as D. has said about other practices we’ve read about here on the world wide web, reality would quickly dissipate the illusion.

Perspective

I should, at this point, be clear that in the context of a “scene” I find objectification more “palatable” and even understandable. In the context of play it can offer a sensual edge to play. In that context, I do not in any way denigrate or perceive objectification as anything other than another nuance to a sexual relationship or a dynamic.

But I cannot help but wonder that objectification is something desired by many submissives or slaves when it has been my experience that so many struggle with a sense of self-esteem and self-worth. I guess I’m not sure how being objectified somehow reaffirms an individual’s worth.

In short, I think one would have to START (as with Vesta, for instance) with a healthy, strong ID, vigorous self-esteem and a strong, solid relationship before objectification can find a healthy place in the dynamic.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Canadian eh?

WHICH IS YOUR FAVOURITE PROVINCE ...?




TOP REASONS TO LIVE IN BRITISH COLUMBIA

1. Vancouver : 1.5 million people and two bridges. You do the math.
2. Your $400,000 Vancouver home is just 5 hours from downtown.
3. You can throw a rock and hit three Starbucks locations.
4. There's always some sort of deforestation protest going on
5. Weed.

TOP REASONS TO LIVE IN ALBERTA

1. Big rock between you and B.C.
2. Ottawa who?
3. Tax is 5% instead of the approximately 200% it is for the rest of the country.
4. You can exploit almost any natural resource you can think of.
5. You live in the only province that could actually afford to be its own country..
6. The Americans below you are all in anti-government militia groups.


TOP REASONS TO LIVE IN SASKATCHEWAN

1. You never run out of wheat.
2. Your province is really easy to draw.
3. You can watch the dog run away from home for hours.
4. People will assume you live on a farm.


TOP REASONS TO LIVE IN MANITOBA

1. You wake up one morning to find that you suddenly have a beachfront property.
2. Hundreds of huge, horribly frigid lakes.
3. Nothing compares to a wicked Winnipeg winter.
4. You can be an Easterner or a Westerner depending on your mood.
5. You can pass the time watching trucks and barns float by.


TOP REASONS TO LIVE IN ONTARIO

1. You live in the centre of the universe.
2. Your $400,000 Toronto home is actually a dump.
3. You and you alone decide who will win the federal election.
4. The only province with hard-core American-style crime.


TOP REASONS TO LIVE IN QUEBEC

1. Racism is socially acceptable.
2. You can take bets with your friends on which English neighbour will move out next.
3. Other provinces basically bribe you to stay in Canada .
4. You can blame all your problems on the "Anglo A*#!%!"


TOP REASONS TO LIVE IN NEW BRUNSWICK

1. One way or another, the government gets 98% of your income.
2... You're poor, but not as poor as the Newfies.
3. No one ever blames anything on New Brunswick .
4. Everybody has a grandfather who runs a lighthouse.


TOP REASONS TO LIVE IN NOVA SCOTIA

1. Everyone can play the fiddle. The ones who can't, think they can
2. You can pretend to have Scottish heritage as an excuse to get drunk and wear a kilt.
3. You are the only reason Anne Murray makes money.


TOP REASONS TO LIVE IN PRINCE EDWARD ISLAND

1. Even though more people live on Vancouver Island , you still got the big, new bridge.
2. You can walk across the province in half an hour.
3. You can drive across the province in two minutes.
4. Everyone has been an extra on "Road to Avonlea."
5. This is where all those tiny, red potatoes come from.
6. You can confuse ships by turning your porch lights on and off at night.


TOP REASONS TO LIVE IN NEWFOUNDLAND

1. If Quebec separates, you will float off to sea.
2. If you do something stupid, you have a built-in excuse.
3. The workday is about two hours long.
4. It is socially acceptable to wear your hip waders to your wedding.

Let's face it: Canadians are a rare breed.

The Official Canadian Temperature Conversion Chart

50° Fahrenheit / (10° C)
Californians shiver uncontrollably.
Canadians plant gardens.

35° Fahrenheit / (1.6° C)
Italian Cars won't start
Canadians drive with the windows down

32° Fahrenheit / (0° C)
American water freezes
Canadian water gets thicker.


0° Fahrenheit/ (-17.9° C)
New York City landlords finally turn on the heat.
Canadians have the last cookout of the season.


-60° Fahrenheit / (-51° C)
Santa Claus abandons the North Pole.
Canadian Girl Guides sell cookies door-to-door.


-109.9° Fahrenheit /(-78.5° C)
Carbon dioxide freezes makes dry ice.
Canadians pull down their earflaps.


-173° Fahrenheit / (-114° C)
Ethyl alcohol freezes.
Canadians get frustrated when they can't thaw the keg


-459.67° Fahrenheit / (-273.15° C)
Absolute zero; all atomic motion stops.
Canadians start saying "cold, eh?"

-500° Fahrenheit / (-295° C)
Hell freezes over.
The Toronto Maple Leafs win the Stanley Cup

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

It's only two minutes ...



Remembrance Day always leave me feeling unsettled and emotional. Remembrance Day in Toronto makes me even more so – for the simple reality of our mosaic which incorporates the most diverse group of cultures, colour and backgrounds of anywhere in the world means the solemnity and respect which I’ve always accorded this most important date is often given short shrift.. leaving me resentful and angry.

Rationally, I realize that it is difficult to empathize with the profound gratefulness and respect that most Canadians hold for those who have served in Canada’s name. I have to remind myself that the intensity with which most Canadians greet our military’s efforts in countries which do not enjoy the same freedom and rights that we do here is not always understood.

Perhaps more than ever today, however, we MUST teach our citizens to remember with respect, with gratefulness, with pride and with sorrow, those who have died not just in the big Wars which are receding now into the mists of history, but all the ones since.

Probably more than at any time in my tenure here in this wonderful country, do I internalize and understand the true nature of the sacrifices being made by young men and women, who in the name of decency, who in the belief that every individual in the world deserves certain rights and freedoms serve now, right this MINUTE in a country far away from home, in a culture foreign to their upbringing, in a place where danger is around every corner.. they LIVE the dream of freedom and put their lives on the line in its name.

Children the same age as MY children are giving up their lives, their youth and living with courage, dignity and respect a reality so many of us simply take for granted.

As someone who has experienced many times over the past few years, the solemn, respectful greeting of our dead as they travel the Highway of Heroes, this war in Afghanistan has given a face to what used to be an ideal that while respected, was removed from my own experience.

I have watched the hearses pass under the bridges which are crowded with the everyday citizens, as well as the fireman, the police, the veterans, many wearing red… flags snapping in the breeze, the silence profound as homage is paid to the boy or the girl in the coffin within.

I see their faces in the papers and read their stories and mourn the loss of futures barely realized.

So, on this day, at 11 a.m., PLEASE stop whatever you are doing. Stand proud, give with your silence and thoughts the respect, the thanks, the homage that these young warriers have earned.

And to put a face on the reality of the soldier’s lives – thank you Buffalo (Vietnam vet), thank you Derek (still in the military, decorated twice for bravery in the Bosnian war), profound, grateful thanks to each and every one of the brave individuals in our military.

You do us proud.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Fallabilities


The fallibility of the human beast is both inevitable and incontrovertible; and each of us, at some point (and usually on a regular basis) is guilty of creating out of human flesh, a shining paragon, imbuing them with infinite wisdom, commensurate insight and an incandescent ability to comprehend and deal with all of life’s vicissitudes... and then, when the gloss begins to dull, when the gold becomes tarnished and is shown to be fake, when the solidity of person becomes suspect, we destroy them.

I think most of us yearn to harbour at some point, an implacable belief in someone, in their ability to cope and in their comprehension and grasp of elemental issues and problems which leave you flailing.

The reality of course is that each and every one of us are fallible human beings.

Each of us harbours moments of insight and fillips of wisdom but in large part, we all fumble through this life and through a combination of luck, blind faith and ignorance make our halting way through crisis and joys equally.

The unfairness of creating in another frail human spirit delusions of godhead, grandiose abilities to predict and unrealistic abilities to soothe, comprehend and “fix” is ultimately so unfair yet so human.

My father was my first (but not my last) clay god. Adored, cosseted, imbued with mystery bolstered by his emotional remoteness, his physical (in our early years) distance (first five years in Canada while my sister and I and our mother were in Ireland – then travelled extensively all week for the first many years in Canada and in other countries), our mother was a god-maker. In our early days, we drank in her accolades to his intelligence, his wisdom, his abilities and talents.

And I was my “daddy’s girl”- his feisty, flame haired, hot tempered passionate child who ignored his physical discomfort with affection and countered it with the enthusiastic affection taught by a mother (for while by nature, loving, he had been brought up since 2 in an almost isolated state in boarding school – he was in his own way, Ebenezer Scrooge without the meanness) and whose enthusiasm and adoration was a balm to a man who in the end cherished his family above all else.

My disillusionment was protracted and gradual; an erosion of faith, a breaking of trust, an awareness of self that allowed me to see things (I thought) from a perspective which showed me what I then perceived as “truth”. Over the years, I learned the difference between intelligence and “business smarts”, between self-knowledge and a refusal to face realities and ultimately, how wilfully blind an individual could be – and where I once saw strength I saw weakness and where I saw resolve, I found excuses.

But I also learned that TRUTH is not cast in stone; TRUTH was the WAY THINGS WERE without the patina of pretence nor the distortions of perspective (or so I thought then). It was only maturity and experience that showed me there is no TRUTH – only your perception of it – perceptions based on your knowledge, experience and insight AT THAT MOMENT. A new twist, a nugget of new insight, a smidgen of another’s reality and all could change.

What is it in the human spirit that demands perfection in another when the lack of same is so apparent in ourselves?

Is it a reaching for the stars? That implacable, confusing, awe-inspiring human spirit that keeps seeking a flawless individual to worship? Our history is riddled with the human need to find something beyond themselves, a spirit, a need, a being who transcends our human fragilities and in so doing, somehow promises redemption.

Perhaps more than many other lifestyles, many of those in D/s or particularly, M/s power exchanges tend to romanticize and mythecize their respective roles. Of course, the end result is that the rich, three-dimensional tapestry of human emotion and personality is then reduced to a two-dimensional canvas with neither life nor movement.

Unfortunately, for those who insist on creating caricatures out of the intricacy of the human beast, there is also the inevitability of disillusionment – not the possibility but the inevitability. For each of us carries with us the seeds of our own destruction; we have embedded in our very humanity the realities of our own fallacies and our inability to see clearly our own intransigence.

Yet we rail and cry foul when our heroes tumble from the pedestals onto which we pushed them. We are outraged when beliefs created in our own fervid imaginations fall to dust and are swept away on the breath of betrayal.

But in the end, it is our own fault.

For wanting to believe.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Scent


I think most of us consistently and pragmatically underestimate the power of smell. 

As I walked the dogs this morning I breathed deep the crisp air and pulled it deep within my lungs, breathing coolness into the warmth of lung and blood coursing through cool skin, then breathing need into the Halloween air in a sigh of vapour and feeling the whisper of snow rustle along my skin, tickling my nostrils with the promise of the coming winter.

I smell earth, rich, loamy, dampness underneath the crackle of leaves beneath my boot, with the hint of frost clinging to the leather sole and crackling in the morning dark.  Earth smells dark and rich and fecund, for the dying leaves nestle into the embrace of soil and sigh their goodness into its deep environs.  The cool air tastes of mint and frost upon my tongue and coats my throat with a whisper of tomorrow’s inevitability and smells like peppermint in the early gloam of morning.

The warm, living reality of dog drifts on the crispness of autumn want and envelops me in its sweet furred simplicity.  Dogs smell of warmth and need and smooth muscle and coarse fur which coats the back of your nose and slides along your skin like home.

The moon hangs low in the sky, a pulsing silver orb spilling silver light through the drifting dream of trees shedding their summer mantles, trunks crisping grey in the dark of the early morning, breathing cold into the gloaming darkness.

I gaze up into the clarity of sky and night and watch the stars twinkle distantly in frosty grandeur, so removed from the summer nights which envelope and cocoon in heat the damp, salt of our bodies.  Summer holds us close; the earth and sky surround and enfold and smells dance on breezes in a kaleidoscope of colour and song.  Autumn is more subtle; to my mind, more enticing in its cool richness and aroma of dreaming sleep to come.

My mind flickers and dances over the reality of smells which engender thought and emotion and remembrances with a clarity which seems to fold time in on itself and bring you into the moment. 

I walk into the house and the smell of crisp recoils from the warmth of wall and floor and the whispering, conjoined realities of home.  Lavender and vanilla swirl and breathe welcome while the dogs’ fur breathes cool still and underneath, the canine reality of bone and sinew barks for precedence over the twitching whispering chuckles of the radiators.

The scent of him in the closeness of our room when I pull back the quilt and as if blind, run my fingers along his sleep damp body. The warmth of his skin breathes rich into my nose as my fingers read skin and soft waking muscle. 

I nuzzle my mouth between his thighs into the warmth of his groin and close my eyes (although in the darkness of the room, dark whispers smell to me) and breathe deep the aroma of his sleeping body.  A sheen of clean, astringent sweat, and the earthy, moistness of the pale tender skin and then I run my lips along the stirring length, sipping want into its burgeoning need.

My nostrils flare and I smell the swelling taste of him, the sharper, mouth puckering deliciousness and his odour slides down my throat and permeates the close air of the closed chamber and I want to roll and coat myself in the familiar yet ever new pheromones and feel my breasts tighten and an ache between my thighs.

In the darkness my eyes are blind and the febrile touch of finger and the smell of our realities mesh and meld and paint the room rich and scarlet.

What smells bring memories alive to you?