Make It Memorable; Love’s Many Faces

Valentine’s Day. The day for lovers, right? Romance, flowers, whatnot…

Yeah, maybe.

But that’s not my most memorable Valentine’s Day.

Don’t get me wrong, there were elements of those things in that day, but that’s not the BIG MOMENT.

My day?

It was supposed to be my day off, but I had to finish making a schedule (and hubby was working anyway) so I stopped in to work for a few hours. I didn’t stay long; was out by noon. No sooner had I left that my office was calling again. Turned out Edible Arrangements had been there and delivered a gift from my guy.

GREAT start to my Day, right? I headed home to start cooking hubby his favorite Filipino dishes…chicken adobo (adobong manok), fried rice, and broccoli.

Hubby walked in to a great smelling house and a hot, tasty meal… There were probably gifts, but I can’t remember now. What I do remember is that he loved the meal, that I went to bed early as I had an early work day & a 14 hour shift the next day….

Right about now you’re scratching your head and wondering what is so memorable, right?

Well, I hadn’t gotten there yet.

Sometime after 11 pm, hubby came in and woke me up. Said he was having pretty severe abdominal pain and wanted to make sure I was ok. Apparently, he was worried it might have been food poisoning except I’d been sleeping like a baby. So then he narrowed the pain to his lower right side.

Googling his symptoms, I realized it could be his appendix. He was scared, but also worried about me and work. So I talked him into going to the ER alone, making him promise to call me if it turned out to be anything serious. At about 1:30 am, I got the call. He sounded a little terrified.

Him: Lovey, they told me I have a necrotic appendix.

Me: Oh no!

Him: Can you come here? They told me I need surgery. I tried to ask if they could write me a prescription to slow it down in the meantime so I could call a doctor and schedule it.

Me: (choking back a chuckle) Yeah. Pretty sure that’s not gonna happen.

Him: Nope, but it was worth a shot. They told me they didn’t think I understood. The ambulance is on the way now to take me to surgery. Can you come, please?

Me: I’m on my way.

Him: I can’t believe you poisoned me for Valentines Day.

Me: I did not. And stop saying that or there may be people who believe you or at least start to wonder. I’m on my way.

And that’s how I found myself in the emergency room on the 15th, calling out from my job, calling friends to walk my dogs during the day, and headed for the hospital to be with my husband.

So, yeah, my most Memorable Moment had everything to do with the ‘For Better or Worse, In Sickness and in Health’ part of our vows. Those moments mean more than any random superficial stereotypes. And that he hadn’t lost his sense of humor, even through his fear and pain? That just shows I married a badass.

So tell me about your most memorable Valentine’s Day. Did it embody any part of the wedding vow? Or are you an non-believer, feeling this only lines Hallmark’s pockets with gold?

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Y is to Yield or Submit

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Why is submission often seen as a trait of the weak?

How hard is it really to act tough; to take what you want or hide how you really feel behind the veneer of civilization and expectation? It’s not really that hard to play the part when a role has been written with you in mind, practically since conception. Telling you how you should feel, think, or act.

Yielding your will to someone else is often counter to everything you’re told you should want or need. Voluntarily giving up your power and bending to the desires of your partner for shared satisfaction and trusting that your lover will not only take care of you, but push your boundaries to bring you incredible pleasure.

To be willing to yield, you must be able to trust. Your partner. Your instincts. Your judgment. And your ability to recognize when to say no…or, in the world of Dominance and submission, to safeword.

You have to believe that your safeword will not only be acknowledged, but respected. That your partner has your best interests in mind. That they are watching you closely enough to pick up on your unspoken (and sometimes unrealized) triggers and kinks….and to know when to push or draw back.

To submit takes an incredibly strong person, comfortable in their knowledge of who and what he/she is. Letting down your walls and opening yourself up to all the possibilities and trusting your partner to be your strength and guide your journey…. Yeah, nothing at all weak in that.

That’s completely different than being a wimp or pushover. Because wimps don’t have the physical or emotional strength to stand on their own. They usually let others lead so that they can make excuses or blame others when things don’t go the way they wanted.

There is no greater gift a submissive could give a deserving Dominant than their willingness to cede their own power to their firm, controlling hand. No Dominant worth his/her salt would ever deliberately take that for granted, take advantage, or abuse that trust.

L is for Lust

LustEver noticed that Lust is always treated like the red headed stepchild to Love?

Why is that?

In my opinion, lust has a very definite purpose. It’s a bit animalistic. Instinctive. It’s often steeped in attraction and leads the way to deeper interests. It’s sexual awareness at its best, and sometimes, at its worst.

Lust can be the early stages of passion that lead to love. Lust often suspends fear and enhances the need to bring on a sense of fantasy and adventure, sexually speaking.

Lust causes the quickie in the closet or the raunchy explorations in the stealth of a darkened movie theater. In fact, I’d say that even after years of being with the same partner it’s possible to fan the flames of lust, drawing out the adventurous natures of lovers…causing them to try something outside of their normal wheelhouses.

Conversely, it can also be the beginning of unhealthier aspects like obsession. To be fair, though, this usually happens if the person experiencing these feelings is already unstable. It’s what lowers their sense of caution. Sometimes it hides their moral compasses and causes people to consider doing dangerous and unhealthy things. Obsessions. No sense of boundaries. You get my drift.

At the end of the day, you’re the only one who can decide if you’re in control or your lust is controlling you….  How has lust manifested itself in your life? Share!

I’m Not Laughing

Ever have one of those moments where someone you consider a friend says something, adds a LMAO or a Haha to the end of it and you find yourself scratching your head wondering if it’s pure ignorance, poor taste, or if they realize how they’re coming across or if maybe they’re not the person you thought they were?

So what triggered this outrage in the normally quirky, laid back Kitt?

A couple of days ago, an old friend (father to a young girl whom he adores with his whole heart) posted on his feed…. “LMAO! Ask Siri what holiday it is today. You’ll thank me later.” I wondered for a moment what holiday he was talking about until I saw this in his feed…

Gen Mut

I couldn’t understand the humor.  Maybe he hadn’t heard of the plight of young girls, usually between the ages of 5 and 10, and mostly in Africa? Did he think it was some sort of joke? But the responses that were coming in had that same “LOL” style answer, too….and my blood started to boil.

Maybe it’s because I’ve lived in other countries. Maybe it’s because I’m a bit of an activist for women and a sex positive message, but I knew what happened to these young girls and it was more than I could take to watch all the laughter without saying something about the plight of these mutilated children. So I said something. Do I know if it sunk in? No. I don’t. But I did what I could there to educate, then brought up my frustration on my Facebook page.

The cool thing is, it got an open dialogue started.

For those who don’t know, Female Genital Mutilation is where young girls, usually between the ages of 5 and 10 are held down by several village women and their external privates, clit hood, clit, labia, and often the tissue at they entry of the vagina are cut off by the local midwife using an unsterilized blade and without anesthesia.

This is funny?

And the “whys” for this are even less humorous. As it turns out, one of my Facebook friends lived for an extended amount of time in Botswana, so she shared some of what she’d witnessed while she was there. The primary purpose of such brutality (and this, I already knew) is to prevent feelings of sexual arousal in their women. But it’s also more than that. They are under the misguided belief that destroying a woman’s privates will make her more desirable for marriage. That she’ll be more faithful. That it will maintain her virginity.

But my friend, Shabby, had more to share. She stated that she’d gotten to know several young ladies while living in Botswana with her husband for business, and the pain and brutality didn’t end with the mutilation. According to what she’d learned, no woman was safe from rape. The biggest targets were usually between the ages of 13-14, and that she’d seen 15 year olds pregnant. They were often beaten, left pregnant, with no alimony.

Their struggle was not what we consider a struggle here. No job, no car…. Their struggle was the rape the night before, the possibility that they now had AIDS, that their third child was on the way and they didn’t have enough money to get past the week. They had no marital prospects because maybe they weren’t deemed “desirable” enough or their last boyfriend left them the night before with no money and no way to fend for themselves, or they were robbed of their last five pula (their currency).

In fact, she said that her maid walked 5 miles to and from work daily and was robbed at least once a month and that all the women she’d gotten to know died before the age of 35. She cried every time. My heart ached.

Here my friends were, joking about something I’m pretty sure they didn’t even think truly existed because  it didn’t directly touch their lives or anyone they loved, yet on this very same planet are women hurting. Most of you know I’m all about empowerment and a sex positive message, but this goes so far beyond that! This is simple human kindness and decency.

The reality is, overall, we’re spoiled here in the States and thank God for it. But that doesn’t mean we can turn a blind eye to other people’s suffering. Or that we shouldn’t try to make the world a better place by opening ourselves up to understanding some of the hardships the rest of the world battles.

And by the way, this is impacting us here in the States, too! One of my nurse friends chimed in to tell me that the percentage of young girls in this country that this happens to is also climbing. She said that there are many Somali women who come to the hospital having been in this condition most of their lives, and when they get pregnant with baby girls, the pediatricians often know that these women are going to send their daughters out of the country to have the process done to their children. Because in their culture, this is a thing to be desired. They truly believe it’s the only way to guarantee the purity and desirability for marriage of their little ones.

Again, where is the humor in any of this?

As I was thinking about what to say, I found that lack of knowledge on the subject is actually not that uncommon….

So I guess that’s where we start, right? Educate? Share? Open the lines of communication up? From there, there are several charities and advocacy groups where one can choose to take their dedication a step or few further.

So tell me… Are you one of those people who didn’t know about this? Now that you do, what are you going to do with that knowledge?

Thankful that Variety is the Spice of Life + #Giveaway

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Thanksgiving is one of my most favorite holidays. It’s one of the rare times that occurs throughout a year where people stop, reflect, and give thanks for some of the blessings in my life. Sometimes those gratitude moments are a little easier to overlook because of the negative surrounding them.

Today, I’m going to give thanks for 5 things…. Some may be near misses, some are “could be worse” moments, and some are just pure joy….and then I’m going to give something away.

I’m Thankful For….

#5. My first ever car accident was one where damages were minor and no one was hurt.
#4.
That when our car broke down on the side of the interstate the other day in the middle of morning rush hour (the engine is toast), hubby had pulled off to the side of the road before the car died, more than likely saving us from a brutal car accident.
#3. That I pursued my dreams with the support of my friends and family, resulting in two published books so far, with a third in the works.
#2. For my new day job after my old one fell through, and the friend who kept an eye open and me in mind.
#1. For a family who loves me, even when I’m feeling unlovable, for kidneys that saved my cousins, and for the next generation of family members as they grow. May they always feel the love we’ve been fortunate enough to be surrounded with….through good times and bad.

Four One Night WEBSITE USE

And on to my giveaway (BTW, I’m not the only one giving stuff away, so make sure to click the link at the bottom of the page)….

I’m giving away a copy of my book, Four One Night. All you have to do for a chance to win is check out the excerpt I share and see if it’s something you might be interested in….. And answer the question following the excerpt! My rules, etc. will be posted following the excerpt as well.

Excerpt:

I nodded my head, an idea taking hold in my mind. “You know, I decided I needed to blow off some steam about three hours ago. You’re coming with me. You need it even more than I do. We’ll call it medicinal.”

“That sounds exactly like the kind of distraction I need,” she said, a smile flitting across her face.

“Good. Because it’s too freaking cold to be standing around. My nipples are pointing all over the place for all the wrong reasons!” We hustled to my car, heels clicking a rapid staccato against the asphalt. “All this pent up energy has me in the mood to play. It’s time to call in reinforcements.”

“Ooh!” She looked at me over the hood, her baby blues full of mischief. “That means Michael’s coming. Think he can handle both of us?”

“We’re about to find out! If not, there’s always you and me.” I laughed and yanked my phone out of my purse pocket.

“Danielle Monroe! You are such a tease.” She tossed her dark gold curls over her shoulder.

“Am I? You’ve never seen my bad girl side.” My eyebrow raised, daring her to take me up on the offer.

“Now that sounds promising.” She said, batting her eyes in the worst parody of exaggerated flirtation I’d seen in a while.

Shaking my head and smiling at our antics, I dialed Michael. With the receiver to my ear, the muted strains of “My Cherie Amour” floated through instead of a ring. The frigid air whipped through the thin cotton of my shirt causing a shudder to ripple through my curvy frame. I grabbed for my key fob and quickly pressed the unlock button.

“Hey babe,” his dark, raspy voice came on the line. “What’s up?”                                       

“Well, that all depends on you,” I purred as my hands motioned Candace to get in the car. “Work was nuts and Candace and I need to blow off some steam. We’re headed over to Club Heat for ladies night. Will you join us or do we need to find some other sexy men to play with?”

“Ooh, someone’s feeling feisty.” I could practically see his smile through the rumble in his voice. “I love it when Miss Dani comes out to play.”

“Then you’re gonna love me tonight.” Grabbing the handle, I tugged my door open. Finally out of the chilled air and in the driver’s seat, I slammed the door shut and shoved my key in the ignition.

“Two wild women looking to unleash themselves after a bad day?” The little beep of his car alarm being released sounded through the receiver followed by the slam of the door. “That may be more than I can handle alone.”

Tipping my head against my shoulder to cradle the phone, I turned the key in the ignition, quickly followed by the heater. “Michael Gallo! Afraid you might need reinforcements?”

Music flared in the background as he started his car. “Afraid is such a strong word. I prefer to think of it as being prepared for any eventuality.”

“Well, you know how I feel. The more, the merrier. Hot men and alcohol make everything better!” With one last look in my rear view mirror, I shifted into drive, leaving our bad day in the dust.

For a chance to win a free ebook copy from Amazon, all you need to do is share one thing you’re thankful for or one thing about the Christmas holiday you’re looking forward to. You have until 11:59pm EST on December 5th to qualify. The winner will be chosen via Random.org!

Also a HUGE thanks to Natasha Blackthorne for hostessing the festivities. If you haven’t met her yet…. check her out via the link posted below, or stalk her at her following hang outs…

Sexual Assault Does Not Negate Happy-Ever-After

As many of you know by now, sex positive discussions is intensely important to me. So many people have their sexual growth and understanding inhibited due to upbringing, religion, and worse, traumatic sexual experiences. Being closed away from one’s sexuality due to whatever reason stifles and inhibits personal, emotional growth and well being and can destroy otherwise healthy personal relationships.

Recently, when I discovered my pal, Jessi Gage, had launched her first ever holiday book, I reached out and asked if I could help her pimp it. I was thrilled when she mentioned that there was a sensitive topic of a sexual nature she’d wanted to address and thought my blog would be the perfect forum. When she gave me the specifics, I was honored. This subject is near and dear to so many hearts. (Don’t believe me? Check out my other pal, Bridget Blackwood’s post.)

Take it away, Jessi! (And please, guys, as always….share your stories, thoughts, and/or experiences because we’d love to hear from you!)

sexual assault

Thank you, Kitt, for hosting me today. I’m a huge fan of you as a person and as a blogger. You are one of my favorite advocates for women’s sexuality. Your voice and the voices of August McLaughlin and Ande Lyons are desperately needed and greatly appreciated by many.

I thought your blog would be a good place to confess my insecurity over a recent first for me. I’ve got a new release out, Cole in My Stocking. It’s my first holiday romance, and it’s the first time I’ve tackled sexual assault in a book. I’m not going to lie, I was nervous about this.

In a romance, you want conflict and tension, yes, but you don’t want to disturb the readers, at least I don’t. That’s not my thing as a writer. I like to leave readers with a serious case of the warm-fuzzies. If people put down my book with a happy sigh, that’s my idea of success. So I wasn’t sure how to handle it when my heroine, Mandy, insisted she had survived a very traumatic situation in her past, a situation in which all her control was taken away: a sexual assault.

Fortunately, Mandy assured me her trauma was well past. It doesn’t appear on the pages of Cole in My Stocking other than as brief flashes of memory that still haunt her. But Mandy needed to spend time in this book working through issues that resulted from her assault. And Cole needed to be the man to help her do it.

See, Mandy has not been able to have a physical relationship with anyone since her assault. She has PTSD. As a counselor, she knows this about herself, but clinical knowledge doesn’t necessarily translate into being able to overcome the emotional scars of her past.

Fortunately for Mandy, Cole is up to the challenge of helping her tackle her physical and psychological issues. He does it by loving her, showing her he is trustworthy, and most of all, through his unwavering patience with her physical limitations.

To get this dynamic right (I hope I got it right!), I consulted my beautiful and generous sister-in-law, Kate, who has a counseling degree and has a heart for helping people. She helped me shape Mandy’s memories and reactions and encouraged me not to hold back when naming the horror that happened to her: rape.

Mandy’s story has a happy ending—of course, since I will never write anything that doesn’t end happily. But it might be a painful read for a woman who has experienced anything like what Mandy experienced. Then again, it might be helpful. Early reviews are indicating that Mandy’s journey is touching and realistic.

Excerpt from a 5-star review by Becca Moree of Breathless Ink:

Learning about what sweet Mandy has been through was tough. It was emotional, and for anyone that has been in a situation where their control, their power, their self worth has been stripped from them…just know that this book can be extremely difficult to read. Mandy’s reactions to what happened and how she handles intimacy after were very realistic. I’m not sure what Jessi Gage did to write this type of story in such a believable manner, but what I can say is that I appreciate the way she wrote this story. It means a lot to me that she managed to write a sweet love story (which I will talk about in a bit) while fitting in details that may help people who have never dealt with assault understand. I felt that it was written in a way that shed light on the way victims of assault think. The way they deal with what others see as a simple situation.

Reviews like this certainly help me feel less nervous about Mandy’s story. I’m so glad I wrote it and I hope lots of people find some holiday hope and cheer in it. I want to leave you with some words from Kate and some resources on sexual assault. Here’s Kate:

Sexual assault is an almost scientific term for a vomit-inducing nightmare. Alas, we are forced to contend with the term, so let’s be clear on its definition. According to the Justice Department’s website, sexual assault is defined as “any type of sexual contact or behavior that occurs without the explicit consent of the recipient… forced sexual intercourse, forcible sodomy, child molestation, incest, fondling, and attempted rape.”

http://www.justice.gov/ovw/sexual-assault 

Recent government-funded studies have brought to light some shocking statistics about sexual assault and rape specifically:

https://www.ncjrs.gov/pdffiles1/nij/grants/219181.pdf  :

Nearly 1 in 5 women have been raped.

Only 16% of all rapes are reported to authorities.

http://www.bjs.gov/content/pub/pdf/cv13.pdf

35% of all sexual assaults are reported to authorities.

http://www.bjs.gov/content/pub/pdf/saycrle.pdf

Teens aged 16-19 are 3.5 times more likely to be victims of sexual assault than the general population.

http://www.cdc.gov/violenceprevention/pdf/nisvs_executive_summary-a.pdf : 90% of rape victims know their rapist.

50% of victims are raped by their intimate partner.

There are a ton of implications in these stats, but I’ll highlight just a couple. What strikes me most about these stats is that rape is so common. We encounter women who have survived sexual assault every day. Eighteen percent of US women have gone through this. You are friends with rape victims. You are family of rape victims. Let that sink in for a minute.

Next, most rape is being done by guys we know. That is actually a pretty scary statistic. Think about it. Women are more likely to get raped by a man they know than by that ominous lurking predator in black, looming in the dark behind that bush. And to top it off, rapes are underreported. In other words, the bad guy is getting off way more often than not.

Sexual assault clearly affects our culture and us personally more than we realize, because it is happening all the time. I encourage you to ask questions and have conversations. Educate yourself on why and how sexual assault is so prevalent in our society. (I’ll give you a hint: It’s not because men are uncontrollable animals.)

Learn about victim blaming:

rape culture

consent:

and ways you can help the women (and men) in your own life who need support after sexual assault.

Here are some resources for you or a loved one needing immediate help after sexual assault:

Resources:

National directory of rape crisis centers: via RAINN website or call 1-800-656-4673

Online sexual assault support group: AfterSilence

Advice for loved ones of assault victims: RAINN website support

Bandbacktogether Blog

Thank you for reading! Please forward this post at will since you never know who might need the resources Kate shares above.

Thanks again, Kitt, for having me! It’s always a pleasure to blog with you!

For more information about Cole in My Stocking and Jessi Gage’s other books, visit her at:

Website | Blog | Facebook Fan Page | Twitter | Goodreads | Newsletter

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Cole Blurb and Buy Links

Mandy never planned to return to Newburgh, New Hampshire, the hometown that unfairly branded her a slut, but she has no choice. Her father has died, and she’ll be spending Christmas settling his affairs. She hopes to get in and out of town without attracting the looks of disgust that drove her away, but when a certain Oakley-wearing, Harley-riding cop starts hanging around, an old crush is revived and the rumor mill restarts with a vengeance.

Cole has always been attracted to Mandy, but he has never acted on it. Besides being sixteen years older than her, he was friends with her father. The rumors people in town spread about her were bad enough without an inappropriate relationship adding fuel to the fire. But when Mandy returns to Newburgh fully adult and looking more gorgeous than ever, he can’t keep his distance, especially when an old secret of her father’s surfaces and puts her in danger. He’ll stop at nothing to protect her, but convincing her to stay in Newburgh, with him, will take a Christmas miracle.

Reader Advisory: Contains references to a past sexual assault 

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | iTunes | Kobo | Google Play | All Romance | Goodreads

Highlight:

He cupped her chin and made her look at him, even if they couldn’t see each other in the dark. “What did he do after?”

“What do you mean?”

“When you freaked out. What did your boyfriend do after that?”

Tension straightened her shoulders. “What any decent guy would do. We stopped. He stopped. He was a perfect gentleman.”

He scoffed.

“What? He was. I was a total spaz and he was cool about it.”

“He was cool about it?”

“What? What’s that superior tone for?” She was getting angry. He loved that about her. She’d stood up to Tooley a few days ago. She was standing up to him now. If she didn’t like something, she let you know about it. Now that was a characteristic he could believe she’d gotten from Gripper.

“You said you freaked like always when things get to a certain point, that you always blow it. You think you blew it with that guy because a single attempt at second base went poorly. I meant what happened afterwards? Was there a conversation? A second attempt after you had some time to process what happened? A third?”

“What guy would want to try again after something like that?”

“This guy would.”

Jessi Gage

Jessi Gage

 

Jessi Gage bio:
Jessi lives with her husband and children in the Seattle area. She’s a passionate reader of all genres of romance, especially anything involving the paranormal. Ghosts, demons, vampires, witches, weres, faeries…you name it, she’ll read it. As for writing, she’s sticking to Highlanders and contemporaries with a paranormal twist (for now). The last time she imagined a world without romance novels, her husband found her crouched in the corner, rocking.

Playtime: What Goes in the Box…

Vibe

Many moons ago I bought my first vibrator. It was exciting. It was taboo. It was hidden in a brown bag so no one would know what I’d purchased. After a quick trip to the store to pick up some batteries (let’s be real, first timer…didn’t want to run out and didn’t know what to expect) I rushed home, excited to play.

Alone in my room, I freed the teal gel cylinder from the wrapping, washed it, and slid the batteries the hard plastic handle piece. I toyed with the various settings against my hand to get a feel for how it operated, then disrobed and moved to the bed.

This was going to be awesome, right? So much easier and fun than my own fingers?

Not exactly.

It wasn’t so much the going in. Lubrication (both self and purchased) helped with that. It was more the uncomfortable, burning feeling.  And the feeling like the only way to rid myself of that uncomfortable burn was to pee.

I knew that the lady at the pleasure party said that they were considered “novelty” items, but it was explained that this had more to do with the rules of other countries about exporting things that were used for sex. That’s why there were things like rabbit ears or hummingbirds or dolphins on the clitoral stimulator….or so I understood back then.

It never occurred to me that pleasure items were not held to any health or safety standard. That they could be toxic. In the end, I gave up on that particular toy figuring it must be an allergic reaction. Heck, I’ve been known to have a sensitivity to latex condoms, so I just chalked it up to that! And then I did a bit more research.

Did you know that many of the older toys were made with toxic products? That they were safer to be used in conjunction with a condom? Or that the type of lubricant you use can actually dry you out? In fact, check out the article I wrote for Sexual Wellness News on exactly this topic this week! It’s all about how to shop for great non-toxic toys. And if you have any doubts that not all lubes are created equal? Check out this blog post from my favorite lube company. It’s from a nurse’s perspective on why their stuff is head and shoulders above the rest.

Don’t get me wrong, this has NOT stopped me from enjoying pleasure enhancers. It’s just made me much more careful in my choices. Heck, ya’ll know I’ve always been pretty vocal about sharing what I like….and reading materials to help you get there.

What about you guys? Any sex toy nightmares to share? Any tips you’ve learned along the way? Caring is Sharing, afterall!