The kids will be ok

My mouth was moving, and my brain was sitting back, listening. That’s always an abrupt realization, that I’m speaking and those words are coming from SOMEWHERE, but I have no idea where.

“The kids will be ok.”

I’m at Master/slave Conference this weekend with slave Angie and I was teaching a class on M/s and Leadership. A fun class, one that I never know how it’s going to go, so each time I teach it, I’m a nervous bundle. This time, the class was wonderful. The vibe was open, people were sharing and I was in a great place. Then came the question… “These young so-called Masters and stepping out when they’re early 20s and thinking they know everything..”

That’s when something in me started speaking .. The kids are going to be OK. They’re going to figure it out.

Look, I was 20something once and I was trying to fuck ALL the things. I knew it all, the world was completely open to me and it was amazing! I was invincible, I was hot, I had all the answers!

Then I was 30something, and that was the point I was busy trying to still be 20something. It wasn’t until I hit late 30s/early 40s that I finally pulled my head out of my ass and started learning and listening. I realized that the things I had seen in my late 20s/early 30s… they left an impression. They made a difference. I had learned something from them, even if I didn’t act like it.

Oh gods, I made all the mistakes of y0uth though. I was arrogant. I did dumb things. I didn’t listen. I broke hearts and got into things I shouldn’t have and on and on… but I was OK.

“Well, what about that damn Internet?!”

Well, what about it? OK, the Internet is a vast pool of information, where facts and fantasy live together. Context is hard. Critical thinking is very much needed. But is that any different in magnitude from what I had to go through as a kinkling? No. I could barely find information, what little there was. That was our hurdle. Lack of information. Lack of safety. Lack of understanding the fire we were playing with. But you know what? Those mistakes made me who I am today.

So yes, the kids of today, they have tons of information but the hurdle of context and figuring out what is good information and what is bullshit. But they’ll be OK. They’ll learn. They’ll grow. They’ll make mistakes and it will make them into wonderful leaders and teachers and really hot, authentic kinky folks.

Just like we did.

My job is to do what those old farts before me did… be there. Share the information, watch the mistakes happen, indulge in one or two knowing smiles/nods, but always accept that they’re going to be OK.

After all… I’m 50sometihng and I’m still having fun and learning, and making mistakes. Just don’t tell my body that I’m not still 20something…

The Butchmann’s Experience

Rage.

Pure, red-hot, all-consuming rage.

My pulse is pounding in my ears. My heart is beating so hard, a brief thought that I might feel palpitations.

The rage is screaming down my nerves, down my spine. My jaw is locked. My eyes are narrowed. My breath is shallow.

Someone is whispering close to me to someone else, I think. SHUT UP! SHUT THE FUCK UP! I WILL RIP YOUR FUCKING TONGUE OUT!

Someone, with a frame drum, raps out a sound over me. My body jerks in surprise. MOTHERFUCKER I WILL TEAR YOUR BALLS OFF AND SHOVE THAT DRUM UP YOUR ASS! I shake my head and grind out the words “No! Stop it!”

I am lying on a massage table, wrapped in saran wrap and a bit of duct tape and I am feeling murderous rage, the type of which I haven’t felt in decades.

But let’s take a step back… what am I doing, why am I mummified and why the hell am I ready to Hulk-out and go into berserker mode?

hulk

The Butchmann’s Experience is billed as:

… an experiential weekend offering opportunities for self-discovery. The event uses hands-on basic SM practices to explore awareness of internal direction, and it uses the practice of Master/slave dynamics to mindfully observe inner resources and qualities that are transferrable to our relationships in life.

The activities of flogging, ritual temporary piercing, mummification, and Responsibility-Obedience practice are further explored through in-depth discussions. The weekend environment is structured to encourage safely entering new experiences, with the Faculty members supporting each individual’s unique experience.

We’ve heard from many friends who went to it that it was “life-changing”, “amazing”, “I go back every chance I get” and a lot of other glowing reviews and stories. It seemed like an opportunity for slave Angie and I to have an experience and see what we could learn.

I did the research to know that there are several aspects of the Experience that might provide a lot of opportunities for us. Part of the experience is to explore M/s dynamics in a safe environment, under the watchful eye of the facilitators, in a very structured and protocol-heavy way… SHOULD you choose. Another part is to give and receive floggings, piercings and mummification… SHOULD you choose. Almost every aspect of this was optional – the water was put into the glass, but you had to make the choice to drink it.

So we arrived at the location in Cincinnati Ohio this past weekend. While Butchmann’s is based out of Phoenix, Arizona, they also do “On-the-Road” experiences in other locations. Some of the weekends are pansexual, some are men-only or women-only. For the weekend, the cost was not that prohibitive at all, though we did have to pay for our hotel, which was fully explained.

At the meet and greet, we saw that we knew over half of the attendees and half of the facilitators. It was comforting in some sense, but a bit intimidating, because if this experience lived up to its reputation, we would be experiencing and sharing in very vulnerable and intimate/deep ways. Not sexually, but far more personal and revealing of our hearts and souls than we were used to.

One of the things that happens is that couples have the opportunity to go through the weekend “together” or separate. The class is divided into “Masters” and “slaves.” I put that in quotes because those are the terms, but it is not an M/s relationship where we go home with someone else. This is not Master-swap or slave-trade reality TV. It’s simply a structured way that the participants explore concepts of service and M/s based activities. Primarily through heavy protocol based activities.

Slave Angie and I discussed our thoughts on the drive from Chicago to Cincinnati – a long 6 hours – and we both were aligned on how our best growth comes when we are out of our comfort zone, when we are challenged. So, I decided that she would be assigned to someone else and that I would be assigned a stranger. Tough! I’m not one to easily share or to easily receive service from others, so this would already be a push.

As well, I had decided to experience all aspects of the S/m – give and receive a flogging, give and receive a piercing, and go through the mummification. It was less about turning into a bottom and switching and more about understanding and experiencing the full range of activities.

I’m going to skip ahead, now that I’ve laid out the what’s and why’s. There is so much to process and think/write about from the weekend, that you would be reading a novel in one post. Let me instead go back to the mummification.

The weekend had been a very heavy set of experiences, and most of them were surprising to me, although they all had been positive and very enlightening. I ‘expected’ (hahaha!) that the mummification would be the same. I wasn’t scared or feeling claustrophobic, truth be told, I was more worried about slave Angie in that regards. But I saw she was under the expert care and she looked and “felt” OK, so I was OK as they wrapped my shoulders arms, chest and legs. With a bit of wiggle room in the fingers, and my head unwrapped and my feet unwrapped, I was laid back on on the massage table and a cloth laid over my eyes.

I closed my eyes and began to breathe in a meditative way… in through the nose, out through the mouth. Count the breaths to 10, let the thoughts slip away… and I felt it in my stomach. A warning flicker of energy. Breathe… breathe… breathe… a bolt of energy shoots up my spine. Rage… growing… what the fuck is? Why am I getting angry… and then it was just pure emotion.

Just pure anger and rage, formless, no focus as much as I tried. I must have twitched or shifted because one of those not doing the exercise came over and asked me if I wanted the cloth back over my eyes. I don’t remember what I said, but it felt like venom spitting out of my mouth.

It burned and flickered like a flame. The rage. All I could do was flex and strain. I managed to poke a couple of holes in the saran wrap. HA MOTHERFUCKERS! I OPENED IT UP! YOU CAN’T SEE ME OR KNOW HOW MUCH I WANT TO HIT SOMETHING, ANYTHING, SO GO HAVE YOUR FUCKING KUMBAYA TRIPS BECAUSE I AM DEATH, THE DESTROYER OF WORLDS!

I remember arguing with myself WHY THE FUCK AM I LYING HERE?! JUST SIGNAL AND THEY’LL CUT ME OUT. FUCK THAT!!! I’M NOT A WEAKLING! I CAN SURVIVE THIS! I remember getting angry at slave Angie. I wanted to free myself, but because I was close to her, she’d probably hear it, feel that I was not in a good place and it would ruin her experience. And I was angry at that. Why should she come before me?!? What kind of an asshole am I to want to possibly ruin someone else’s experience?!?

And on and on the anger went. It was so unreasonable and a small part of me was just sitting there, observing.

Eventually, I managed to roll my head enough that the cloth came off. One of the facilitators came up and I manage to spit out “I am done.” the required three times. She cut the saran wrap up to my waist, looked at me and said “You can do the rest.”

AT LAST!!! HULK SMASH!!! I tore off the rest of the wrap, I attacked it, I shred it. Fuck this shit! Fuck this exercise! I fucking hate this! I was so angry that I was shaking and could barely stand, but I did because dammit, I was going to!

The odd thing was that almost as quick as the anger came, it left. I was there to help cut slave Angie open and greet her with a glad heart and smile. I joked and chatted with everyone during lunch and participated in the group talks after, but I was dreading the debriefing from the mummification. I was sure everyone else had a wonderful journey of exploration and here I was, going to be the downer of the party.

So everyone shared in the debrief, and slave Angie was in tears about her experience. So it came down to me and another person, who I knew had a great experience… so I told them.

And of course, the people around me had seen, felt and known about my rage, my anger and the energy I was apparently VERY obvious about! *sigh* Hulks apparently cannot hide. What was amazing was that not only did they accept my experience, they validated it as genuine, as “OK” and as perfectly acceptable as the happy-trails that others had felt. Even with the point that “I intend on never ever fucking doing that again!!!!”

I’m still not sure what the anger was about, where it came from or why. I know that when I was younger, that anger was a constant companion. I was always angry. It was quick and fiery. It was a source of strength and of focus and passion. I played angry, I fucked angry. It even used to be that in some S/m scenes, I would tap into that energy… so that it was like using high-octane additive to the energy of the scene. Hard to describe, but there it is.

I only know that this was an experience I do not regret… but do not want to feel that anger again. I’m sure I’ll get an idea of the “why”… or maybe I won’t. Maybe it was just provided to me and now I get to do “something” with it.

I will write more about the Butchmann’s experience and the lessons that I might have from it. I know some already, and I’m sure more are coming. But this… this was riding the lighting.

 

The calling

Mastery and slavery is a calling. A personal calling to walk an edge within themselves and the ones who choose walk that edge with them.

Yes, you can start out by just saying “I want to be M/s. I have no idea what that means, but I know where to begin.”

One does not earn a black belt by waiting 5 years, jumping onto the mat and performing perfect katas. One earns by putting on the white belt and getting the crap knocked out of them, by the frustration of learning, because it’s the journey that leads to the Master and slave, not the destination of having arrived.

The Master/slave Flag Signed ’round the world

Click on each thumbnail to see the many Master/slave community members who signed the flag!

Background – there is a flag that has been used to represent the Master/slave community. First presented to the world by Master Tallen back in 2005, it has been adopted around the world as an easy to recognize symbol of the M/s relationship dynamic and the M/s family’s contributions to the greater kink/alternative sexuality community.

When slave Angie and I became International Master/slave in 2014, we had an idea of what we wanted to do. We wanted to travel as much as we could, visit as many MAsT (Masters And slaves Together) chapter and and Power Dynamics groups as we could; go to as many events that featured tracks and classes on the Master/slave dynamic, meet and get to know as many Masters and slaves across the world as we could! Tall order, considering when there are over one hundred MAsT chapters alone, and the identification of “Master” and “slave” is as broadly used online as you can imagine.

A lot of previous titleholders have told us that sometimes the purpose and meaning of the title-year finds a person in unexpected ways, and that was very true for us. We were attending IMsL (International Ms. Leather) in April of 2014, when we were asked by a very sexy leatherman from South Africa, Jaco Lourens, to sign a flag. Jaco is Mr. South Africa Leatherman 2009/2010. He was touring the States and had brought a Leather Pride flag with him for everyone to sign and then take it back to South Africa to share the US leather community with his home country.

What a wonderful idea! It was then that we decided to do something similar – we would get a Master/slave flag and have everyone that we meet sign it. We would show it where ever we went, so that folks in the Master/slave community would be able to see that they weren’t alone.

There’s a reason that we felt that “we’re not alone” vibe so strongly. Back in the mid-2000s, as slave Angie and I struggled with our path and growth as Master and slave, we looked around for “people like us.” Other Masters and slaves who had similar beliefs and approaches. Surprisingly, we weren’t finding too many of them. Not at the munches or the various discussion groups. There were a few who identified as one way or the other, but their form of M/s seemed to focus solely on sexual and S/m than what we were looking at – service and a “higher calling” as we felt it. There wasn’t a MAsT chapter in Chicago that was open to straight couples; the only Chicago chapter, at the time, was for gay men only. We eventually found our M/s tribe, but we never forgot the feeling of being alone – and we never wanted anyone else to have that feeling.

So, we ordered the flag (actually, 2 of them) from Lifestyle Sewing. I told Nancy that her flag was going across the world, and fortunately we received it in time for it to come with us across the ocean, as we traveled to meet up with the UK Master/slave community – visiting the first European MAsT chapter – MAsT: Plymouth. They were so excited to be signing the flag, we even got a paw print of their chapter mascot, the completely adorable grey-hound, Treacle.

That flag became our constant companion for the remainder of our title year. We took it across the US – California, Arizona, Texas, New York, Ohio, Georgia, Michigan… more than 10 states all told. We also took it around the world, as it came with us to the UK and then on across the world to Australia, where MAsT chapters and Master/slave folks from Sydney and Melbourne signed it. Events like Great Lakes Leather Alliance, Master/slave Conference, American Brotherhood Weekend, Southwest Leather Conference and South Plains Leatherfest. MAsT chapters and kink events, we shared the M/s community with people through the flag and they signed it. Virtually every inch of the face of the flag has a signature and message on it.

The thing we took away from our experience with the flag, as well as from our title year, is that there is a very vibrant, but still small Master/slave community. Now, we’re donating the flag to the Leather Archives & Museum, so that they may display it and have it available for the M/s community of the future – so that they too can see that they are not alone, that there are “people like us.”

And pictures of us with the flag from our title year.

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Presenting the flag to Master Rick Storer at the Leather Archives & Museum in Chicago.

A year later…

It was a year ago that we stepped aside as International Master/slave 2014 titleholders and I brought the M/s 365 blog posts to an end. The experiment was over and I think we had covered a lot of ground of what it was like to live as a full-time relationship based on an erotic, spiritual exploration of an authority-surrender based relationship. When I find I am done with something, it’s very much “me” to drop the mic and go on to the next thing.

This past weekend, slave Angie and I were at the South Plains Leatherfest (SPLF) event where the contest is held, and where there are many classes on Leather, S/m and Master/slave subjects. (And a dungeon! But more about that in a moment…) We taught three classes. After one of those classes, a lovely couple came up to us and the woman looked very emotional and possibly upset. Come to find out, she’s been reading our 365 blog posts and has enjoyed them and written about them privately. We were both really surprised, honored and humbled that our words were still being read!

So hearing about this prompts me to talk a little bit about what we’ve been doing for the past year and where we’re going.. and will we start blogging again?

But first… the dungeon! Woohoo! After 3 consecutive years of attending SPLF  and doing all the things presenting and preparing or competing, we finally got to play at the pan-space at SPLF. It has been a long, long, LONG time since we played in public anywhere like that. It was a small, quiet, intimate, lovely flogging and tactile play thing – but very much fun.

So.. a year. The past twelve months have seen us go through some drop, do some reconnecting with each other and our bio-family and home, myself get back into some hobbies and personal projects that feed my artistic/creative heart, and seen us really focus inwards and small. We’re really looking at our local community, the people around us and the things we need to do to continue building on what we started. This coming weekend will be our first time being event producers, and there’s quite a bit of nerves, excitement, crazy face and a bit of that look you get when you’re about to go over the hill on the roller-coaster… here we goooooooooo!

The focus inward and on home and on the things that make us happy in small ways feels good. Our dynamic is strong. We’ve got a rhythm to things – it’s a small rhythm but it feels nice. This coming summer, we’re going to be doing a lot more motorcycle riding and reconnecting with ourselves and our love of travel just to explore and experience new places. It will be very nice.

We still are teaching. We taught a wonderful daylong intensive in Columbus on M/s dynamics and we’re repeating the same in Indianapolis in April. Doing teaching at regional/local events. And getting out a bit more locally so that we can meet new people and enjoy what feeds us within our communities. There is some change happening, some pruning of things that haven’t continued to grow… and that’s sad. Especially when it’s things we’ve put time and heart into and they seem to have moved on or moved away. All good things come to an end, or you cut away and prune to allow new growth, so they say… it’s still kind of painful. Grieving, I guess?

The direction and goal is inward and around us. Things need tending next to us and it’s time to take care of home and garden.

Will I/we keep blogging? I don’t know. I’m not sure what to write about. As I said before, when I say all the things I wanted to say, it’s hard to keep on writing about just stuff… ? So as topics occur to me or slave, perhaps. It’s kind of time to live life so we have new experiences and new lessons to learn and then share.

How To Train a Wild Slave and Master… I mean, Elephant!

The past almost four years were quite an adventure, but we’ve come to a point where I’m ready for us to take new steps, learn new things and deepen the experience of being Master and slave together. To deepen the surrender and authority.

One of the books that has been widely recommend to me, on the subject of mindfulness, is How to Train a Wild Elephant. The jist of the book is to deepen one’s mindfulness through a series of weekly exercises for one year.

But why mindfulness? Why am I focusing on this specific thing?

I believe that to live a life as Master and slave, Mindfulness and Intent are the two key elements that underlie almost everything that we do.

I have no doubt of slave Angie’s obedience and abilities. What I want to do is what a great many successful sports teams, successful leaders and successful individuals do… go back to Basic Training.

With four years of on-the-go, we’ve settled into patterns that work for that sort of living, but now we’re shifting into something a bit more quiet. And with that, to build a good step forward, going back to what underlies all that we do, focusing on it, exercising it, this will help make sure that the foundation has the support it needs.

Integrating authority/surrender in everything we do is a matter of both being mindful and having intent. Mindful of who we are and what we’re doing – intent of keeping who we are in our minds and the intent that this be who we are, not what we do.

We started the first exercise this weekend, and it has been fun! I don’t want to spoil the book for you, but let’s just say that I’m very aware of what I’m doing when I’m doing the exercise. Shaving, for example, has become a study in “Carefully… carefully…”

What do you do to go back to the Basics?

[M/s 365] Why do this?

This past weekend, slave Angie and I had the pleasure of giving a 1 day “intensive” on M/s. It was six hours of an intimate group of couples and some unattached/unaccompanied joining us to discuss tools, techniques, mindset and approach to M/s and what they needed most to hear. It went wonderfully!

The reason for the repost is because I was asked both last week on Facebook, and in the class, why I/we do M/s. My answer hasn’t changed from what I said almost 18 months ago. If anything, I’m even more drawn to the edge and exploring where we can go.

Our Master/slave Journey

razor-and-pearlsWhy do I do this? I’ve always been attracted to the edge. I’m a firm believer that M/s *is* edge play. It’s on the fringe of relationship dynamics for sure. It explores places that are deeply intense, that are on the edge of what our kink/leather/BDSM world explores.

It’s that edge that calls to me. It’s that edge of exploring where we can go. It’s that edge of passion, of joy, of feeling the heartbeat of our relationship as surely as I feel her pulse when I touch her.

There are a hundred and one things that follow, but the first stirrings, the first calling, was that edge, just as surely as S/m called to me.

And what does that edge look like? It’s the authority, it’s the absolute decision that she made when she surrendered to me, and it’s the surrender and exercise of authority that we engage in each day.

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