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.

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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?

On Reconnection

The simplest of things – a long-used phrase, but said with passion; slowing down that evening ritual so that each word spoken, each position taken, each touch made becomes a moment of meditation; a drive to the grocery store where you all are in the car together, alone – these things can become moments of reconnection that end up meaning so much.

We teach about this in our classes on M/s and Life: That in the cycle and ebb-flows of Life, it is easy to lose track of each other. To get caught up in the day to day struggle. To simply collapse in front of Netflix, Facebook or World of Warcraft and “veg out.” To forget that NRE and drive that brought us together in the first place.

Taking time to reconnect can feel like an impossibility, but it doesn’t have to be a holiday weekend, it doesn’t have to be a big production. A simple coffee shared together, a moment where your mind, intent and mindfulness are focused on these moments, just being together, just remembering those things that may have gotten lost in the shuffle.

After three years of being road warriors, slave Angie and I have been doing exactly that. Reconnection. Remembering the sting of paddles, the sadistic lust, the moments of connection with rituals and a flow that feels more like “us” than it has in a long time. We have been taking trips up to a get-away in the woods of Wisconsin and it has been healing in so many ways.

We used those tools though – the simple reconnections – to keep us going through those three years, but this feels so good to be “us” again.

Consent Non-Consent

This topic rears its head more often lately, and I was specifically asked about it today on a Facebook post. I thought I would share my views here as well. To avoid TL;DR, I’ll state it here: I go back to a long held belief – 2+ adults consent to do something, as long as it doesn’t harm each other, I hold none in judgement of what they do with their limits. CNC for me is about someone giving consent/authority to another to go beyond their limits, without requiring permission or ongoing, active consent to continue. (From a relationship consent, not from a legal authority standpoint.)

The phrase consent-non-consent seems to have been around as long as I’ve been involved in the BDSM and kink communities – so set your clocks to 1995. When I first starting looking around the BBSs and then the strange thing called “the Internet”, there were discussions on ye-olde-Usenet that centered around the acronyms “TPE”, “IE” and “CNC.” Ah, JJ and his interpretations and pronouncements of what was and was not “TPE” back then. The discussion about all of that was good stuff, with a lot of very smart, bright and thoughtful people asking good questions. So, it feels very much like “back to the future” as folks new to kink as very similar questions as I was reading twenty years ago.

backtothefuture
Wait, stop me, I think I’ve heard this one before…

Consent-Non-Consent, in my mind, boils down to this – the idea that you consent to whatever is going to happen, trusting that the person you’ve given that consent to isn’t a psychopathic asshole who is going to end up harming/abusing you.

Now I use those words harm/abuse very deliberately, because I think that those activities of “harm” and “abuse” are ones that aren’t designed for consensual activities. I *also* believe that although activities may not be harmful or abusive from a legal standpoint, they could be harmful/abusive from a personal standpoint. This means that CNC becomes a personal, contextual definition, which brings in that whole messy “relativism” question. What is harmful/abusive to some might be a Saturday night foreplay session for me. And vice versa.

From a legal standpoint, abuse/harmful are also subjective, but we have a pretty good idea of what our local police and prosecutors are going to see as abuse/harm. That whole can of worms has been with us for a long time and will continue to be, but I believe the people I consider “safe” (in that they will not be harmful/abusive) pretty much know how to walk that edge.

So… if CNC is relative/contextual to the relationship and people within it, then how do we define it and have a discussion about it? Well, that’s the catch and that’s where an Internet debate is going to quickly boil down to “I do it this way and it works for me…” and rinse/relather/repeat.

So, that’s why all I can offer is my opinion, which is that I go back to a long held belief – 2+ adults consent to do something, as long as it doesn’t harm each other, I hold none in judgement of what they do with their limits. CNC for me is about someone giving consent/authority to another to go beyond their limits, without requiring permission or ongoing, active consent to continue. (From a relationship consent, not from a legal authority standpoint.)

Can someone “consent” to have their limits exceeded? Yes. Ask basejumpers if they are consenting to exceeding their limits. Almost every time, they ride the edge. Same for test pilots. Same for anyone doing possibly harmful things. They’re adults. They hopefully are tall enough to ride the ride and to understand that the edge cuts both ways and has a price. If not, they’re going to learn really damn quick.

BASE_Jumping_from_Sapphire_Tower_in_Istanbul
Yep, the NOPE is strong in this picture.

As a Master, i work on mental CNC, to where I attempt to create a mental/emotional response in Angie so that she cannot do anything but submit. It’s that edge that we walk as practitioners of an authority based power dynamic. To be honest, in such a case, I can’t see how we’re not doing CNC. I’m OK with that… I know I’m not harming/abusing slave Angie and she quite readily would agree with that.

(Image from here: http://www.publicdomainpictures.net/view-image.php?image=119175&picture=red-yield-road-sign )

When Real Life Happens

wefearchange

It’s been an interesting few months since we took a break from our travels and presenting, giving ourselves a much needed rest. A number of things have happened, we’ve had some interesting experiences with dealing with change, and we just had a really good MAsT meeting this past weekend where we talked about changes and how relationships go through times of evolution and change.

relationship-triangleI’ve seen a number of M/s relationships fail because they were set up with such a rigid structure and rigid expectations that when real life and change did happen, the relationship couldn’t absorb it. One of the things that I heard recently from someone was that you can measure relationships by where it falls in a spectrum on  a triangle like the one to the right here. Sexual/Romantic/Service. I found it a very useful way of looking at things. If the relationship is completely in, say, service and one of the people in the relationship starts to want to go into the Romantic or Sexual, that might mean a change that the relationship isn’t set up – a Master may want the rigidity of a Service-only, no-love, no-sex, and the slave is starting to want to date, or to open the relationship to the possibility of a sexual element.

This also is true for when changes happen to a relationship which require one or the other to step outside their roles and assume the responsibilities of the other. Like for me, doing the dishes, and house cleaning, and child care, while slave Angie was recovering from a procedure. I think having the flexibility to refocus our energies into the other areas, while keeping the protocols and dynamic in place, allows us to have M/s in times when one of those sides can’t be fully explored.

And let me tell you, I discovered new areas of things that I want a certain way now. *grin* The dishes get loaded now immediately, laundry is done in a certain schedule… the things I relearned having to do it myself.

I think that it is possible to have a relationship that fully engages on one side, and as long as both parties are open to moving to other points of the triangle, or as long as that’s made clear up front – yes, we can consider going into other elements, or no, it has to firmly stay here, because that is all both of us want or agree to. I personally find it hard not to incorporate all aspects into a Master/Companion-slave relationship, but I definitely would be able to limit it to one or two aspects for a shorter term, or focused relationship, like I’ve had with some explorations of people being in short-term service to me.

And yes, there is a reason why sex is at the top… I may be almost fifty, but I’m still a dirty man…

Coming back to Earth

With our stepping aside as the current International Master/slave, the drop has been quite sudden and a little more steep than either of us thought. On top of that, my work has ratcheted up a few notches and let me know that the flexibility we’ve enjoyed with the title year is now over. THUD. Back to earth. Adulting sucks sometimes!

On top of that, a member of our leather family is ill and in the hospital after a suicide attempt. THUD THUD.

Add on top of that, we’ve had busy nights each night this week. Not a lot of connection time as I had hoped. THUD THUD THUD.

Add in some financial realities which have reared their heads, on top of the normal stress and it just makes for a “What the hell… can I go back to 2014!?!”

In all seriousness, this too shall pass. The Sun comes up tomorrow. We’ll get through it. We’ll move on. Some of these things, we saw on the horizon, and it’s just now that we can devote the full attention and energy to them.

This is the part of the whole deal that they can’t prepare you for. That sudden end of the year, that sudden drop, that the spotlight moves on (for better and for worse) and it’s now up to you to say “OK, what next?” and to take care of yourselves.

Of of the things that our title adventure has done has been to put us through reforging our relationship again. Toughen it up, hone the edges and show us just what we’re capable of. There’s a different feeling in us these days, a feeling of “fuck yea, we did it, we got this, we can get through just about anything” that comes with having done it. That’s the bonds of a long term relationship, the foundation and the bedrock that is solid and has gotten even more solid through these experiences. It’s those things that we’ll use as we adjust to the changes going forward.

[M/s 365] The year is over!

A little over a year ago [1], we started a project to blog daily about our lives as a Master and slave, as well as our lives as the International Master/slave titleholders.

Today, that project and that year is over. Last night, a new couple was named International Master/slave 2015 and we have stepped aside. Tired, luggage duct-taped, wallet a little (a LOT) lighter, but we are so much richer for the experience.

We wanted to show the good, the bad, the ugly and the amazing in our dynamic and our year. It’s been a crazy, whirlwind year. We learned a lot about each other and the small, wonderful M/s community around us. In a few days, I’ll hopefully be able to post the video of our step-aside speech, depending on how it turned out.

I don’t know what our future project for this blog will be, but it will not be ending! We’re not going anywhere. Although we never got much traction on our “ask us anything” posts (are we that scary? 😀 ), we did hear from people that you do read us and you do like our posts. Thank you for sharing that, and for sharing our year with us. We’re thinking about doing some video blogs going forward, as that would be a medium that slave Angie would be good at, I think. I’ll continue to write, although without the pressure of trying to do something daily. THAT will be a relief!

Thank you. Thank you for your comments, for your words and just for reading and being here.

[1] According to the Internets, it has been 1 year and 6 days, or 371 days. 🙂

(Picture from: http://www.publicdomainpictures.net/view-image.php?image=93446&picture=race-track )