Holiday Hibernation – of sorts

Master Michael:

The holidays have been, for us, a time of hibernating and nesting. We usually slow down a great deal in our travels and going out – family time and my bear-like habit to go to ground keep us pretty quiet.

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That has been different this year, with our title-holding responsibilities. After Leather Reign in early November, we presented at the MAsT: Buffalo Grove meeting on Ms, Health/Disabilities. Then, a break! Slave angie and  I went away for two weekends to a get-away, with the family Thanksgiving celebration in between.

The get-aways give us a few moments to focus on just each other. It’s hard to get that focus, for us, when we’re on a plane, or at a conference or event. That’s not to say we don’t have fun or wonderful moments, but those quiet moments where we can just focus on each other without distraction, where we can have opportunities to live and breathe, those have come few and far between in the past year. So, when we get the chance to have those quiet moments, we take them gladly!

This past weekend had us putting up the Christmas tree and preparing for a weekend full of holiday preparation and celebration.  Angie has a family tradition where the women of the family gather to exchange hand-made ornaments and home-made cookies. Somehow, I manage to get recruited to help with the making… but I really don’t mind. I end up having fun helping.

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Our leather club, Chicago Leather Club, had their annual holiday party/Annual General meeting this same weekend. Mother Nature decided to sock the Chicago area with an early snow fall, so it ended up being a small, intimate gathering. Food, drink and good company. It had been awhile since I had a chance to just sit and be with friends, so this was a very welcome evening. The drive home was pretty frightful, though.

Chicago Leather Club Holiday Party

We’ll be in Louisville this coming weekend, to celebrate our 8th anniversary as a married couple, and to teach at a gathering at Master Steven/slave kim’s home. We’ll be teaching Ms and Disabilities/Illnesses again. I’m glad to see there is a growing interest in the topic, although consider that none of us are getting any younger, I’m not surprised. The stigma behind the topic seems to be lessening some. That’s a good thing.

The celebration, though, will take place earlier as we go on a tour of the Maker’s Mark distillery. It’ll be decorated for the holidays, I’m sure it will be wonderful.

Leather Reign Nov 2013 – Seattle

Enjoying the sights of the ocean and aquarium

(angie’s thoughts) Arriving at the airport we were greeted by Master Brian and slave mel. I wasn’t sure what to expect from this event but i was very glad to have a chance to visit Seattle and meet a lot of new people, Class schedules were perfect for allowing us down time to get to see the aquarium and a few sights.

Out of the three classes i was very glad to hear the luncheon discussion on kink & disability within the community. Seemed to be a relatively new topic for the group with a lot of very good information to share.

Representing Great Lakes is SEWIOUS BIZZNESS!

(Michael’s thoughts) I was looking forward to Leather Reign since I’d heard about it at Master/slave Conference and GLLA. It had a great reputation for Master/slave topics and “vibe”, like MsC and South Plains Leatherfest have. I wasn’t disappointed. From the moment we got there, we felt “at home” with the warmth and welcome.

The highlights for me were visiting the Seattle Aquarium and the 3 hour class with Master Skip Chasey/slave rick and Master Jim/slave marsha. The Aquarium was on a recommendation from Ruin (ICBB 2012). Angie and I like to visit at least one place outside of an event, especially if it’s in a town we don’t visit so much. It was wonderful, the jelly fish were fascinating and I loved the “petting zoo” of starfish and urchins. The 3 hour M/s class was a wonderful experiment by Master Skip and Master Jim. I loved it and I hope to replicate the concept (with both their blessings, thank you!) at a Midwest event, perhaps Power eXchange Summit this coming June.

And, shockingly… we got to use the dungeon!

On a Moment in M/s

A green leaf“These succession of moments are the essence of our life as Master and slave, as simple and beautiful as that leaf suspended in mid-air at 70 miles an hour on a motorcycle ride.”

I used those words in August in a speech I gave at GLLA during the Master/slave contest. 90 to 120 seconds is not a lot of time to express deep thoughts, but I gave it my best shot. My speech centered around my continuing and deepening spiritual view on M/s and the bond that forms between a Master and slave.

Guy Baldwin, in “Slavecraft” talks about the bond of respect & affection that he sees in Master/slave relationships. He writes about them with such feeling that I almost find my mind’s voice reading them in a “hush” … a “whisper”. How else to honor and take in such powerful feelings?

Yes, this is relevant, bear with me just a moment…

Slave angie and I taught a class last Friday on Service in 24/7 relationships. There was a very surreal moment that I’ve chewed on for awhile, and while there is no “rational” explanation, I’m going to simply put that I believe that the ability to “feel” that bond can be as simple as an open heart and mind to the moments… or just be surprised by the sudden enlightenment.

So we are discussing some aspect of how service has changed during being together for awhile… and time slowed to a crawl.

If I could describe the energy and the connection that I saw/felt in that slow moment, I would, but words aren’t going to get it. All I can say for sure is that in that one moment, that bond that Guy talks about was as visible as the computer screen that I see these words now. The bond formed over a lot of life together, a lot of shared experiences, tears, laughter, joy, pain, ecstasy… and all of the ups and downs that we’ve journeyed through.

The feeling was of affection, of love – but it wasn’t a romantic love, or a love that comes from time shared with someone – this had the feeling of something that we describe as “bigger than ourselves.”

… and then angie was speaking and someone in the audience was asking another question and time moved on.

I’ve been doing a lot of deep diving into my beliefs of spirituality. For me, belief and spirituality have been difficult processes. The closest thing that “feels” right is Buddhism, but not the Buddhism that is wrapped in religion, but rather the teachings and the self discovery that is possible from the teachings of the Buddha. I’m still finding out if this is the path for me.

If that brief vision fits enlightenment or a taste of enlightenment… insert a Keaneau Reeves “Whoa” right here. Because momma, that was one helluva amazing look.

The leaf suspending in mid-air – so close I could see it’s veins – and yet I’m screaming by at 70mph on the highway… and the moment closes. On to the next moment, with open mind and open heart.

On our communication when we first started out

listening-earAngie and I wanted to put our thoughts down on things that happened to us when we first started down our Master/slave path. We posed questions to each other and then answered them. 

The first topic we chose was communication. 

What do you think our communication was like when we first got together? 

Angie: As with most new relationships communication is usually tempered by expectations. Whether it be our own expectations of the other person or what we believed the other person wanted to hear. At first there was a lot of back and forth questioning if we were even compatible and learning exactly what the attractions were and were they short term or for the long run. A lot of different things all seem to be happening all at once.

Michael: I remember the communication was like an exploration – what’s this? What’s that? For me, this was such a powerful connection with you, and the New Relationship Energy was over the top. I didn’t come into the relationship with a lot of expectations on communication, because communication was – in my head – going to happen or it wouldn’t. I didn’t know at the time that I was going to struggle with communication later on. So for me, I think it was good.

What was something really good about our communication early on? 

Angie: At the very start we wanted to make each other happy and support each other. That still remains today which is one of our strongest points to our foundation.

Michael: Yes, I agree.. we wanted to be open and honest too. “Brutally honest” was our motto (and still is) and we stuck to that, and still do. That was new, in that I’d not been with someone who could be as brutally honest as I was. It was a good thing to have, as we jumped into being Master/slave full-bore about 3 months after we started dating and figuring out this is what we wanted to do.

What was something really challenging?

Angie: Our biggest challenge and like our biggest plus which still remains is communication through our differences of processing emotions very differently.

Michael: Unknown to me at the time, it was my Aspie that provided the biggest challenge – in how I process and communicate words and emotions. I’d also say our baggage from previous relationships. We always said we were throwing out the rule books and habits of the past, but they did rear their heads and give us problems. Factoring in learning about being Master/slave with each other made that even harder. I made a couple of big mistakes early on (one I didn’t see come to light until about 3 years later) which served as big lessons to me.

Masters in service? What blasphemy is this?!?

brick-wall-1352536907vmOIt’s an obvious thought that the slave serves the Master in an M/s relationship, but lately I’ve been thinking about an aspect that I don’t hear a lot about – how the Master is just as much in service to the relationship.

Along those same lines, as someone who has been covered, I have been considering what form of service is performed by those who’ve received the cover and title of Master in the community.

I think both are similar in nature, in that they end up serving a greater whole.

I’m in service to the relationships that I’m in. I have responsibilities and duties. I have the authority given to me, and a requirement that my exercise of that authority is something that is positive, is within the boundaries of my ethics and what has been negotiated, is in the end sustainable and realistic. The whole is greater than the sum of its parts. What we create in our journey is bigger than just two people engaged in a kinky relationship. For that yin/yang to work, I have to give as much as my slave does – in different ways, by different means, but no less an effort.

I’m a Master who enjoys harmony and peace in his life. With as much chaos as the Universe likes to throw my way, it’s a joy to get to those moments. We both have to strive for that balance, though. If I did not contribute and serve to that pursuit, then what would I be? I don’t think I’d be a very good Master.

When I was covered, I looked at the wonderful woman covering me and whispered “You know, you just gave me a ton more responsibilities.” She smiled, her eyes twinkled as she gleefully whispered backed “You have no idea.”

Well, dammit, she’s right.

I was brought up that leather men and women were loyal to their club, to their families and to to the people they shared bonds with. I was also taught that if I saw a need, if I saw something that spoke to me, then go get it done.

I’m also a big fan of this quote of the Reverend Martin Luther King: “Not everybody can be famous, but everybody can be great because greatness is determined by service.”

Now to me, the term “greatness” doesn’t mean fame or somehow being “better”, but rather perhaps “enlightment” or even “completeness” or perhaps “joy” or “fulfillment”. A personal “greatness” versus a greatness among others. Most people who volunteer, who roll up their sleeves and get things done, who perform the acts needed to assist, to complete, to provide… they’re done behind the scenes. They’re done to where nobody realizes it. That’s good service, what you would expect in an M/s relationship, but it’s also, I believe, the way of service to a greater whole.

I was given a cover because my elders and club members felt I had provided service, I had learned my craft, I had demonstrated ethics and the values they deemed appropriate and valuable in both my personal relationships and in my leather circle and club. I was human, they knew I’d made mistakes, but I’d also learned from them … in their eyes. (I tend to be less forgiving of myself.)

That didn’t mean the service stopped to my community, oh no. I feel the pressure even more. Now I have the responsibility to share with others who want to listen, to still serve and protect and be a brother to those in my family, but now I have to pass it forward and backwards. The lessons, the history and the support that others will need to make mistakes, to grow and to become more realized and authentic people — whether it’s in the privacy of a home or club, or whether they choose to step out and get involved even more so.

As a Master in a relationship and a Master in title, both of those require me to recognize that the journey doesn’t stop, the service doesn’t stop… the more I know, the more that service grows.

What do you think?