Feminism and Submission: Kinky Coexistence #BOAW2018

In the last couple of years there has been a huge resurgence of attention and activism placed on feminism and women’s rights. We’ve had coordinated women’s rights marches, much more discussion around equality in pay, education, and career opportunities.

Yes, as a group we’ve become loud and proud, creating campaigns like #metoo and “Fight Like a Girl” designed to encourage our fellow woman to speak out and share in solidarity to the female sisterhood.

Even in movies we’ve been a force to be reckoned with….bringing out badasses and heroes like Arya, Khaleesi, Rey and Wonder Woman… and other movies like Black Panther and Hidden Figures where the women were strong, smart, and powerful. And this is all amazing. Really!

But I wonder sometimes if, in our battle for equality and power, we’ve lost some sensitivity and somehow managed to push others in our sisterhood into a deeper closet…made them doubt themselves and their acceptance in our new, fierce world.

Submission in a time where we’re calling on the badass women must be so difficult. I mean, living in the often highly misunderstood BDSM world is already tough. They already get the whole…blah, blah, blah…”abuse”,….blah, blah, blah…”Stockholm syndrome” crap from people with no understanding of the “Safe, Sane, and Consensual” lifestyle.

But now, when we’re talking about powerful women, I’m sure that there are many women fighting against their nature because somehow submission in this new world (not that it wasn’t already there a little bit) might make them seem weak or the ‘unfeminist.’ Or maybe their sisters will think maybe they’re not living up to their gender/power roles and are somehow encouraging female oppression, either silently make them feel like an insult or embarrassment to the cause, or outright say it…because they don’t understand.

And they’d be WRONG!

“A submissive is free to do whatever they desire, whenever they desire. Yet even with all their freedom, they choose to kneel. That is why submission is so beautiful.” ~ Unknown

My first contribution to Beauty of a Woman GirlBoner edition was Sacred Sexuality. At that time, I discussed my thoughts about being both a Christian and kinky. Why do I bring it up? Because I believe there’s something pretty sacred about the power exchange, too. Heck, people like to throw around the “wives submit unto your husbands” verses as a reason NOT to embrace Christianity, but I believe they don’t fully understand (or choose not to) the difference between submission and subjugation. Plus, the scriptures also say submit to each other, so it also doesn’t limit itself as a one way path down a gender specific street. Pronouns CAN be exchanged, in my opinion.

“The idea of submission is never meant to allow someone to overstep another’s boundaries. Submission only has meaning in the context of boundaries, for boundaries promote self-control and freedom. If a woman is not free and in control of herself, she is not submitting anyway. She is a slave subject to a slave driver, and she is out of the will of God.” ~ Henry Cloud

Submission is a physical, emotional, and mental act of consciously and deliberately giving oneself over into the loving care of another. Far from weak, it’s one of the hardest things to do, and only the strongest of soul and purpose is capable of giving up so much trust and placing it into a worthy Dominant’s hands.

“Fight for freedom when someone suppresses you.. Be submissive when someone gives freedom for you.” Shivaranjani Murugesan

I think that probably speaks to the strength, beauty , and power of submission pretty well. It takes a strong, self aware woman to willingly and knowingly walk this path. Isn’t that also what being a feminist is about? Knowing and understanding your needs and fearlessly reaching out and grabbing it? Being a trailblazer on a road less travelled? Knowing your true self and knowing what it takes to make yourself happy, then fearlessly reaching out for it, screw the voice of public opinion?

I mean, there’s something exquisitely beautiful about BDSM… It works because there’s an honesty to the relationship that you won’t find in many places. They realize that no one gets through life without a few wounds and scars, fears and insecurity. And it’s about building such a strong foundation in honesty and communication that you don’t hide the realest, ugliest parts of you. Because somehow, in the give and take that happens in such a surrender, they want those parts of you, too…and help you learn to accept and love even those darker parts of your soul that make you uniquely you. And it’s true on both sides of the relationship.

“I want the parts you’ve tried to throw away. The parts you were convinced no one could love.” ~ unknown

To me, the fearless strength a submissive has…to take their power and willingly, knowingly hand it over to someone worthy…well, if that’s not both powerful woman and feminist, I don’t know what is. It’s scary, sure. Misunderstood by many, absolutely. But true to your inner self? A beacon of strength that leaves many a Dominant in awe and grateful for the amazing gift? How could they not be?

Submissive, please don’t let yourself be stifled, squashed, or afraid because of the feminist message. YOU are the embodiment of EVERYTHING that makes a woman both powerful and a survivor.

Be fearlessly you!

This post is part of The Beauty of a Woman BlogFest VII! To read more entries, and potentially win a fun prize, click HERE. on August’s McLaughlin’s site between today and 11pm PST March 9th.

Sending you all Love and Empowerment!

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Lost, Broken, or Hope? Which Are You?

My heart hurts today. I just can’t sit here and say nothing. Am I the only one who feels it lately? All this hate, rage, toxicity oozing out of social media?

Can you not feel its destructiveness to your bones? I can.

There’s already so much pain and desolation and fear in the world. Must we really rabidly spew more hate into it? For the first time in a long time I hid someone’s posts from my Facebook posts from my feed because I couldn’t stand the hate messages wrapped up as “activism” anymore. Every message was filled with vitriol, spewed hate, and fanned the flames of extremist behavior while denigrating anyone who might value something other than what she believed.

I felt sad. Sorry for her. That she was so unhappy and filled with poison and looking for someone to blame. But I couldn’t be in her universe anymore. For me. I couldn’t condone her messages of verbal violence against others. That’s not a solution. That’s not helping make this world better. That’s just more of the horrible cycle of fear and hate and violence.

Listen…

I live in Florida. My heart broke for all the lost young lives. I ache for their families. It hit very close to home. The violence is not ok. I think we all agree on that. Gun control? Maybe it will work, maybe it won’t. I don’t pretend to know. Do I think mental health issues play a big part in the violence of today? Absolutely. Do I think teachers should have to carry guns? No.

Billy Graham, who has been a religious leader to many, also died this this week. He lived to a ripe old age. Good for him.

Death isn’t death. Everyone finds their strength to move on from different sources, faith in God being a big one. So when I see the same people shouting hate comments at political leaders due to gun control laws, then spewing filth, nastiness, and wishing violence on a religious leader, I get sick to my stomach. I begin to wonder just how broken you are to fan more fuels of hate after such a painful week, and I walk away.

I feel sorry for the person, but I forgive them and I leave. Because I can’t be around that. I refuse to believe that the world is so broken and disgusting that it now only filled with rage and hate and finger pointing.

I don’t like people who extol hate and vicious rage. Who fan flames of doubt and violence. I may love you as a person, but it doesn’t mean I like you. Or that I’m blind to a person’s effect.

I guess what I’m asking is this… Have you considered the message you’re sending out into the world? Is it truly representative of the person you are? Are you helping to make the world a better place? What things have been hurting your heart lately? What things have given you hope or joy?

Righteous Indignation

Darkened soul;

You speak the language of hate,

Intolerance and throw away lives.

You coat your fear

In God,

Claim faith, love,

While spewing venom.

Evil,

Hidden in rosy words,

Claiming encouragement.

The snake living in Eden.

Do you see it?

YOU are the hand

The devil is using to write

His darkness.

You say you are Christian,

Believe in God

Then spread bigotry?

Do you not recall?

“Even the demons believe in God and shudder.”

Think long.

Think hard.

Ours is not to be

Judge, jury, and executioner.

He gave his only begotten son

For ALL of us.

Not just those you deem

Acceptable

In your flawed, human eyes.

The blood of the lamb

Flowed for everyone.

The imperfect,

To be made pure through HIM.

My God is LOVE.

Not sure who yours is….

I was out. Driving to get breakfast when I saw this sign at one of the busier cross streets in my neighborhood. It sickened me as much as it saddened me. I wanted to rush out and remove the sign, but my small car couldn’t accommodate, and I didn’t want to do anything that could get me in trouble, so I did the next best thing. I reported it to the police.

As a Christian it angered me and tore at my heart. Hiding behind supporting the police and God to spew hate? Despicable. So I did what I always do when emotions get the better of me. I wrote.

Because I had to make it clear that the God I worship doesn’t seem to have much in common with theirs. And more, he’s the only judge that matters.

Q is for Quit

We hear it all the time. 

“Don’t quit.” 

“Winners never quit, quitters never win.”

And generally speaking, I agree. 

However….

There are times when quitting is exactly what we need to do.

  

Quit making excuses. For yourself. For others. It’s easy to do. But it’s not productive. The message sent when excuses are accepted is that you don’t believe the excuse maker is capable of more.

Quit blaming others. Good or bad, it’s your life. Own it. You are the one who has to live with the consequences. 

Quit the people who don’t believe in your worth. You don’t need that kind of negativity.

Quit limiting yourself. Dare to chase your dreams. Don’t settle for anything less than your best.

Quit holding on to the mistakes of the past. Learn from them. Use them as stepping stones toward the future you’ve always wanted.

Quit trying to please everyone. It’s not possible. Do what’s right for you. Real friends will understand and support your decisions.

Quit listening to and/or participating in gossip. Drama tends to create stumbling blocks and cause drama. It develops rifts in relationships, and has a way of coming back on a person. It’s unproductive, a time suck, and generates stress. 

Quit playing down your skills and talents. Be proud of what you bring to the table. False modesty is counterproductive and utter bullshit. There’s a huge difference between being an ego maniac & knowing yourself well.

Finally, Quit living your life for other people. You are the one who will have to deal with the consequences of the choices you make. Not them.

In other words, quit the things that hold you back, hold you down, or hold your self worth hostage. You are worth so much more….

I’m sure you guys can think of other important things to quit that are been ficial, or maybe you’ve quit some of the things I’ve listed and have seen the positive impacts…. Care to share any of those with us? You know what they say… It takes a village. 

Heroes, Mentors and Making Things Happen

“I don’t know what your destiny will be, but one thing I know; the only ones among you who will be really happy are those who have sought and found how to serve.” ~ Dr. Albert Schweitzer

I’m not sure exactly when the realization dawned; that heroes and mentors were different entities. Not that they can’t co-exist. They can. But they can also be entirely separate of one another.

Me and my hero

Me and my hero

For example, if you were to ask me who my hero was growing up, my answer would have been my mom. In fact, if you were to ask me today, my answer would still be the same. But do I consider her a mentor? No. I look up to her. I love the values she believes in. I hope to be as firm in my faith as she has always been. She’s been through some of the toughest things you can imagine and kept her belief, her joy, and her family together. I hope I inherited her strength.

Of course, being who I am, I looked up the definitions and here’s what Merriam-Webster had to say:

Hero-

: a person who is admired for great or brave acts or fine qualities

: a person who is greatly admired

: the chief male character in a story, play, movie, etc.

Mentor-

: someone who teaches or gives help and advice to a less experienced and often younger person

Strange as it sounds, despite the definition, my teachers were never people I considered to be mentors, either. Although they taught me and I respected them, it was more clinical. Not bone deep…pushing me to grow, encouraging me, and driving me to be more.

Maybe it’s because I was a girl with whom knowledge came easily, but it wasn’t until my late 20’s that I’d ever truly felt challenged…in a good way. I skated my way through most things based on natural ability, charm, a lot of common sense and my own driven nature. Then things changed and I discovered my first mentor.

No longer happy with the career path I’d had for the first 10 years of my working life, I decided to shift from medically related to retail sales. As a sales rep and eventually supervisor, my natural love of and ability to read people made me highly effective. I was quickly promoted up through the ranks into a single location manager role.

Then I was given the opportunity of a lifetime. I had a specialty, you see. I was great at networking and being able to build mutually beneficial relationships in a shared partnership environment. So when my company decided to create a manager position that encompassed 4-5 smaller scale locations (much like a mini-district manager), my boss considered the position designed for me, and a no-brainer. The problem was that there were no guidelines, boundaries or examples because the role was literally just created. It would be a trial and error situation where we figured things out along the way. In commissioned sales, this was definitely not the norm. For the first time, I struggled. My results were inconsistent.

Strangely, through this struggle, I discovered my first mentor. I already knew her. She was my boss. Her name was Ashley. When we sat down for my first performance appraisal I received my first less than stellar score. Frustrated, feeling like I was doing everything I possibly could, I asked her what I could do. She looked me in the eye and said, “I’d like you to work on one thing this year. Hold your team accountable. Don’t let them get away with excuses.” In fact, she took it one step further, and it’s a lesson I’ve never forgotten. She said, “I don’t accept excuses from you, so why are you allowing it from them? When you allow your team to get away with excuses you’re sending them a message. You’re letting them know you don’t believe they’re capable of anything more.”

She didn’t micro-manage me. She didn’t coddle me. She told me the biggest thing she thought would improve my business and let me sink or swim, but she was there to listen and give advice whenever I chose to reach out. In the past it was easy to sway my team to my point of view. I was beside them all day. In this role, my staff only saw me one day a week as I rotated locations. She was right. I couldn’t simply talk to them and be done with it. They needed to know that if they didn’t follow the action plans I rolled out, there would be consequences. I got very good at accountability. My team developed into her “go to” group whenever she needed strong business results regardless of where our company shifted their areas of importance. To this day I look up to her and hold her up as an example of an incredible leader.

Fast forward to today and why I’m telling you this story…..

As many of you know, a little over a year ago I decided to pursue writing seriously. Honestly, when I toyed with the idea in my mind, I had no idea if I had what it took to do this. For all I knew, publishing a book was a pipe dream. Shoot, I’d been writing most of my life but never pursued it because when I was growing up, the only option was New York and, for the most part, you had to know someone/have an ‘in’ to even be considered.

It meant the world to me that my sister and my best friend both told me, “I always thought you should’ve been a writer anyway.” But let’s face it. They loved me. They were biased.

But…a mutual friend was not. When I told her my dreams of writing, she asked what I wanted to write. I honestly don’t think she expected me to say erotica/erotic romance. She surprised me, though. She asked if I had a sample she could read… somewhere around 10,000 words. Suddenly I was terrified. Why? Because she’d already been successful in this field. She’d actually won the Maggie Award. Her name is Kaye Chambers.

Instead of laughing, she took me under her wing and taught me. Sure, sometimes it was the little things like how to properly format Word while writing. Other times it was to tell me that I needed to add more dialogue or that I could be awfully heavy handed when hammering a point home, and that I needed to use the subtlety techniques I used when writing poetry to allude to an idea rather than beat my readers over the head with a mallet.

Here I was, this random person who she barely knew when she reached out a helping hand…but that’s exactly what she did! The thing is, I’ve read her stuff. In fact, I LOVE the way she writes. She’s got savvy, sassy heroines and she writes these amazing opens (something I still struggle with). She creates these entire shifter universes that I think are beyond cool. It blows my mind! If you’ve never read her stuff…check out her girl Sasha, a cat shifter, in Tiger By the Tail. Or read Blood and Destiny. Her book that won the Maggie was Angelic Avenger…also awesome, but very different from the other two. It’s amazing how, sometimes, what you’re looking for is much closer than you realize if you only have the courage to ask.

I reached out with a few questions and she gave me so much more than I ever imagined. She chose to mentor me. She held my hand through my fears. She pushed me to be better. She challenged me to give more than I ever thought I was capable of…

And when I finally pushed that button to publish my first piece, she cheered me on! Her words? “You did all the work. I just gave you a bit of direction and support. You should be very proud of yourself.” With the help and belief of my mentor and the folks who love me, I was able to make my own dream come true.

One day I hope that I can do justice to the faith that Kaye has shown in me, much the way I did for Ashley. Who knows? Maybe one day I’ll be strong enough, knowledgeable enough and with enough experience to be able to mentor someone else in this new, exciting world.

What about you? Do you think there’s a difference between a hero and mentor? Who have yours been?

A Look Back and a Step Forward

New Year

As the year comes to an end, I’ve found myself reflective about 2013. Overall, it has been challenging, but with every year I learn that growth comes through challenges.

There were a few firsts….

This was the first full year since I was 14 years old that I did not have a “traditional” job working for someone else. It felt strange.

First time I’ve received letters/emails stating a company went another direction in their hiring process (because I was overqualified).

Went to my first readers conference, Authors After Dark 2013 in Savannah, and had a blast getting to know other readers…and picking the brains of some of my favorite writers.

Took my first temp job representing an electronics company in retail stores, teaching their employees about the company’s products, how to sell them, position them, and overcome customer objections.

Milestone Firsts… The GOOD STUFF!

But…even with those negatives…it was also the first time, despite all my stops and starts, that I published my first book…an erotic short! Those of you who’ve known and followed me for a while are not even a little surprised.

I got to meet one of my favorite blogging buddies, Renee A. Schuls-Jacobson, in person. The day we spent together was priceless to me….and quite hilarious. (She’s now going through some tough times, though, and could use lots of good thoughts and prayers.)

I survived my first ever 5K…and I hate to run! But, with the help of a few friends, we killed ColorVibe‘s run. Our team name? “Taste The Rainbow.” Hehehe!

ColorVibe

ColorVibe

I wrote my first ever sponsored blog post, and it was a blast!

I turned 40. Fortunately this one won’t be repeated… overall, preparing for the party turned out to be very stressful, but the love and friendship I was shown was worth the effort.

I got to meet some of my favorite authors…like Cherise Sinclair (who tolerated me when I accosted her at the end of the autograph signing event).

She STILL autographed my book...

She STILL autographed my book…

And the lovely and talented Joey W. Hill who was gracious enough to take a pic with me at the elemental ball….

Me with Joey W. Hill

Me with Joey W. Hill

Not to mention the awesome author who transplanted to my hometown (Chicago), Julie Ann Walker…who bought me a drink and spent time chatting it up and laughing with me.

 

Me and Julie Ann Walker listening to my sister.

Me and Julie Ann Walker listening to my sister.

Or partying with C. J. Ellisson….at the pre-vampire ball party in her hotel room, then at her table.

Vampire Ball with C.J. Ellisson

Vampire Ball with C.J. Ellisson

 

There were a few heartbreaks

A dear friend of mine lost her battle to cancer. I tried to find a way to honor her memory…and share her love of life with you guys here.

My husband lost his job. That stung considering I had not found a day to day job outside of my writing. Fortunately he found a new one a couple weeks later.

Several more friends were diagnosed with various illnesses, mostly cancer.

I had to miss my half-sister’s wedding because of short notice and inability to afford plane tickets (they were nearly $1000).

~~~~~~~~~~

While I was listing a general recap of last year’s highlights, I was surprised at just how many positive things had happened last year. Why? Because the bad ones felt so big!

Overall, life is filled with good and bad…which makes it a bit bittersweet. It’s so easy to lose perspective and let the negative overtake you if you allow it to have a foot hold in your mind.

So, as I enter into 2014, I’m determined to go forward with my best foot forward and my attitude in check…and to make sure that I remember to celebrate all the positive milestones I’ll be experiencing along the way.

What about you? When you look back on this last year, what are some of your most standout moments, both good and bad?

I think The Verve had it right with their gorgeous song from Cruel Intentions….

Christmas Miracles and Sharing Hope

A big part of the Holiday Season are gifts and miracles. Even non-believers are often able to suspend cynicism to find something wonderful.

One of the pleasure I’ve gained because of my blog comes with the people I meet along the way. In fact, that’s how I was introduced to one of those miracles. Imagine this for a moment… You’ve just had your first child months prior when your health starts to rapidly decline. You go to the doctor and are given the frighteningly terrible diagnosis. Yes, it’s the dreaded “C” word…and not just any, but one that usually sees you dead within the year. She was diagnosed with pleural mesothelioma. That was back in 2005.

As most of you know, I love to tie music in to my posts. When I asked her for a favorite song, she gave me one of Peter Gabriel‘s greatest songs. When you consider her story, the love and support she received from the people around her…and the fact that she’s here for her daughter, the song makes a special kind of sense.

Heather Von St. James has an amazing story that I hope you check out for yourself and share with others. It kind of reminds me of another one of my favorite Christmas tunes. Afterall, when everything is at it’s darkest…. That’s when we usually find our miracles. Personally, I believe in all sorts of miracles. So here’s Amy Grant with My Grown Up Christmas List.

Do you know anyone who could use some extra positive thoughts or prayers? Maybe someone suffering from cancer who needs a bit of hope? Or maybe someone who IS another Christmas Miracle? Please share on here…. I’d love to add them to my prayers, and I’m sure if we all get together to push good thoughts and prayers this way…we can give hope and miracles a helping hand….