The three common principles of BDsM

I’ve had a few requests for some posts about BDsM.  Some of you might know that I’m interested in BDsM.  I’m both a scholar who likes to learn about new techniques, fetishes and relationships and an active participant who likes to indulge in BDsM  play in the bedroom and in day-to-day life. I’m by no means an expert, but this is something that I’m fascinated by and passionate about. I’m happy to write about this part of my life as long as my readers are interested.  And since I casually mentioned it and got a few responses asking for more information, I’m guessing that at least a couple of you are.

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I thought a good place to begin talking about BDsM on this blog would be to introduce you to the three core principles of BDsM.  BDsM covers a vast range of practices, scenes, fetishes, fantasies, lifestyles and roles.  It can be something very extreme, involving complex equipment and dedicated participants, something light and gentle or anything in between.  Even though the scope of the term BDsM is incredibly broad, there are three core principles that apply no matter whether you’re tying someone up and hanging them from the ceiling or giving your lover a few playful swats with a hairbrush.  Those are the principles of Safe, Sane and Consensual.  These three words are the cornerstone of all BDsM play and should be considered very carefully by all players involved.

So what do I mean by Safe, Sane and Consensual?  Let me break it down for you.

Safe” means that you have taken into consideration the potential risks and how to eliminate or minimise them.

  • You understand any and all equipment that you are using during your scene.
  • You have practiced the techniques that you will use.
  • You are aware of what warning signs to look for that may indicate that your partner is in distress.
  • You are able to administer first aid or quickly obtain assistance if necessary
  • You have safety equipment such as rope cutters close at hand.
  • You have discussed any physical ailments or limitations with your partner.
  • If your BDsM play involves sex, you will practice safer sex.
  • Safe words or signals should be decided upon.  If the word or signal is used, play must stop immediately.

Sane” means that you are in a rational and clear-headed state of mind.

  • You will not practice bondage, impact play, sharps play or other dangerous scenes under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
  • BDsM should not be undertaken to harm another person, to vent anger at your partner or to exact revenge.
  • Proper aftercare should be employed to ensure that all parties are feeling safe and stable after play time is over.
  • The person who takes on a Dominant or Top role must be aware of the vulnerability of their sub or bottom and not take advantage of them or abuse their position.
  • Extra care must be taken if you have a mental illness.  Potential triggers should be discussed with your partner, as well as any additional needs or aftercare that you may require.
  • You must act responsibly and with self-control.

“Consensual” means that all activities are undertaken with full and informed consent of all parties involved.

  • All scenes are negotiated well before play begins.
  • Parties should discuss their limits and boundaries, and those limits should be respected.
  • Honesty is essential to achieve informed consent. You must not lie or mislead a partner about what you intend to do to them during a scene.
  • Make sure that you tell your partner if they are approaching your limits, or if they are doing something that you do not like.

As you can see, there is a tremendous amount of care and consideration which must go into the practice of BDsM.  The amount of planning and negotiation is proportionate to the level of danger or the degree of power exchange involved, but it is always a vital part of BDsM.

 

I’m certainly interested in writing more about BDsM or play.  If there are any topics you’d like me to touch on in future posts, please let me know.  As always, questions are welcome but I ask that you keep them respectful.

 

What I learned from my breakup

I was slightly stunned last week when I realised that it’s been nearly three years since the end of my most serious relationship.  That breakup ripped me up in the worst possible way.  I’ve never felt quite so adrift as I did in the weeks and months following that event.  But as horrible life events often are, my breakup was a real learning experience.  At the risk of sounding utterly trite, I learned so much about myself and about love from the aftermath of that breakup.  And now that I’ve had time to reflect upon it, I’d like to share some of those hard-earned insights with you.

 

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There is no such thing as “The One”

For years I hung onto the idea that there was a single person out there for everyone.  I think it comes from being raised in a family with two happily-married parents, with happily married grandparents and aunts and uncles who have long and happy marriages. In addition to my home environment, pop culture was also a guiding force in my firm belief in “The One”.  And for a very long time I believed that my then-boyfriend was The One.  And when that relationship ended I felt utterly shattered because that’s not what’s supposed to happen.  I worried whether I was wrong about him being my Person.  Or if he was my Person and that meant that I didn’t get another One.

 

After a lot of reflection and dating, I’ve come to the conclusion that The One is a myth.  There will always be people who are so compatible that you believe that the two of you were made for one another.  And for some people, that feeling comes only once in a lifetime.  Some people find it multiple times.  And some people don’t find it, or perhaps aren’t interested in romance.  I truly believe that my ex-boyfriend was The One for me from the ages 17 through 27.  But after that we were no longer compatible.  And I believe that I’ll get to have that feeling again.

Sometimes the best thing you can do is tear everything down and start fresh

After our final fight, I left and found a flat for me and my two cats.  I had almost no furniture because I’d sold most of my shitty second-hand stuff when I’d moved in with my boyfriend.  So I spent many, many nights in a very empty flat feeling alone bereft and very sorry for myself.

After a long period of wallowing, I started working on filling my flat and my life.  I took a full-time job, which ultimately led to my current job which I really enjoy.  With the money I earned I bought furniture and household items that I actually liked.  I spent time with my friends and made new mates.  I started exploring new interests.  I did some online dating and had a series of incredible experiences there.

But the point is, I would never have done those things if my relationship had remained on track.  I would never have needed to buy new things or meet new people.  Although it sucked at the time, stripping that floundering relationship from my life made room and space for things that have made me feel happier and more “me” than ever before.

Fear of failure is worse than actual failure

I’m a very anxious person.  For years one of my biggest fears was that my relationship with my partner would end.  Even when our relationship was good, I would sometimes lie awake at nights freaking out about how awful it would be if we broke up.  And when we did, it was like a nightmare had come true.  Only it wasn’t as awful as I’d imagined it would be.

 

Now, don’t get me wrong, it was pretty fucking brutal.  But it wasn’t as all-consuming and insurmountable than the scenario my very active imagination had created.  I managed to deal with it, survive and thrive.

 

This realisation has helped dramatically with my anxiety.  When I’m about to take a risk or I feel scared about something, I reassure myself with the knowledge that the fear is worse than the actual scenario of failing.  And that’s not just a cliche that I placate myself with. I know that to be true.

 

Letting a partner be your plan for the future is a mistake

I did a very dumb thing during the course of my relationship.  There were many moments when I should have been planning for my future, and I’d brush away those scary thoughts about superannuation and mortgages and let Future Vanessa deal with them.  You see, I thought that my relationship would last forever, and I thought that meant I’d be set for life.  My partner worked hard and had a well-paying job.  He knew what he wanted from his career and I was happy to just go along with that, getting away with working part-time because he earned enough to take care of the bigger, scarier expenses.

 

But then we broke up.  And I realised I was screwed, financially.  I’ve always been good with my money, but I’d never earned much.  I’d saved some cash, but I never thought to put anything into my superannuation, or worry about my financial future.  My plan for the future was to let my boyfriend take care of it.  I’m ashamed to admit that, but it was the truth.  And I paid dearly for that error.  But after some panicking and nervous crying I got my butt into gear.  I took on a full-time job to better support myself.  I opened a dedicated savings account.  I put money into superannuation.  I started researching investments and cutting my discretionary spending.  And now I’m in a much more comfortable financial position.

So now, if I wind up on my own for good, I’ll be set up to take care of myself.  And if I do end up getting married down the track, I’m coming into that union with a solid foundation and the knowledge that I’ve got my own back.

A “successful” relationship doesn’t always mean “One that doesn’t end”

For a long time I nursed a deep wound caused by the feeling that I’d failed.  I felt that because we’d broken up, my relationship with my boyfriend was all terrible and all wrong.  I tortured myself thinking about all our happy memories, and tainting them with the idea that they were somehow flawed because we had broken up.

 

I had an epiphany while watching How I Met Your Mother.  In the final episode, where Barney and Robin reveal that they are getting divorced after a few years of marriage, Robin mentions that their marriage hadn’t failed, but rather that it was a successful marriage that only lasted three years.  That hit me so hard, because it’s really true.  Not all wonderful, successful and important relationships last forever.  And not all long-term relationships are successful.  For so much of our time together, my relationship with my ex was awesomely fun, romantic and nurturing.  I felt supported and truly happy.  And that isn’t tainted by the fact that our relationship didn’t last.  It was what was right for us for a portion of our lives, but after that we were no longer compatible.  It happens, and it doesn’t make me or my ex a failure.

 

Have you learned any hard lessons from a breakup?  If so I’d love to hear about it in the comments section.

How to deal with a body that’s changed.

So, over the last year or so I’ve noticed a lot of changes in my body.  And I don’t mean like, growing hair in strange places.  I mean that I’ve gained some weight.  Not a huge amount of weight, but enough that I feel uncomfortable in my own skin (and in most of my jeans).  And I’m not going to lie to you, it’s been pretty hard for me to deal with this change in my bod.

Now, I’ve written before about gaining weight, and how it’s troubled me. And a lot of the feelings I discussed in that post are still ringing true.  I’m finding it quite hard to manage the feelings that are cropping up with the weight that I’ve gained.  So in an effort to move forward, I sat down and thought carefully about why I’m so bothered by a few extra kilos.

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While my negative feelings about my body are complicated, there are a few key issues that have bubbled to the surface during my ruminations.  The first is the realisation that even though I try hard to be body positive, even though I try not to internalize the messages I’m bombarded with about how thin is better, and how being fat is a terrible thing, I’m still affected by them.  Even though I know countless people with a wide array of body shapes and sizes who are all incredibly gorgeous, even though I constantly tell people to be kind to themselves, I still feel the weight of those messages.  I still feel like I’ve failed in some way because I’ve gained weight.  I still feel less attractive when I notice that my jeans won’t zip or that my belly pokes out more than it used to.  I still feel like I should be ashamed of my weight gain.  It makes me pretty angry that even though I’ve done my best to resist that negativity and shame, it’s still wormed it’s way into my consciousness.

I’ve also felt frustrated with myself because I keep having this idea that my weight is something that I should control.  And that if I’m gaining weight, it’s because I’ve done the wrong thing.  I feel ashamed and lazy.  I feel mad that I have to manage my depression with drugs that have caused me to gain weight.  I feel burdened by my full-time job, which takes up much of my time and energy and makes it much more difficult to eat well and exercise. And I curse my genetics which make it more likely that I’m going to have a rounder figure as I get older.  I feel impotent because there are so many factors working against me, and I imagine that I should be able to manage them and keep my figure because that’s what women are “supposed to do”.

I also feel uncomfortable with the way I look.  Now, I need to point out that I don’t think that fat=ugly.  The reason that I don’t feel comfortable is that I’m not used to the way my body looks now. Even though the shift in my weight hasn’t been dramatic, it’s enough that I feel strange in my own skin.  I look in the mirror and it feels weird to see more rounded hips, and a curved tummy  and actual boobs.  My figure has become more hourglass where it was always fairly up-and-down and very skinny.  My clothes fit me differently and hug me too tightly over my new curves.  Outfits that used to make me feel confident and sassy now make me feel like a sausage in a too-tight casing. I don’t feel like I look like “me”. It’s so difficult to learn to love a new shape when I’d barely become confident in the one I had.

But I’m doing alright.  And there are a few things I’ve been doing that have helped immensely.  I’d like to share those things with you, in case you’re also struggling with a body that’s changed.

Talk about it.

Discussing my feelings and insecurities has been extremely helpful.  I’m lucky enough to have many people in my life who were kind to me, who listened attentively and empathised.  Talking it over with a few of my favourite people helped me to feel so much better.  It made me realise that my feelings aren’t unique, that these struggles are something that most people go through.  It gave me comfort to know that those special people didn’t think any less of me because I’d gained weight, and still valued me just as much.

Decide what action you want to take (if any)

Let me be absolutely clear: you don’t have to do anything about your weight gain if you don’t want to.  I’m the last person who will tell you that you need to go on a diet.  But I do think that if your weight gain is causing you pain and grief, then you need to do something.  For me, I’ve taken stock of my  lifestyle and realised that I could definitely improve my eating habits and exercise routine.  I know that I need to plan a more well-rounded diet and move my body more often.  At the same time, I know that unless I starve myself and stop taking my medication, I’m never going to get back to my old body.  And so as well as taking better care of myself, I’ve decided that I need to work on accepting my body and coming to terms with the changes that have taken place.  So whether you want to change up your habits, or look at your emotional patterns, or a bit of both, I think taking some action to get yourself feeling better is a good idea.

Recognise that bodies change

All bodies, particularly female bodies, go through massive changes over the course of a lifetime.  And whether those changes are caused by a lifestyle shift, hormones, medication, illness, age, growing a human inside you or some other reason, it can be difficult to manage.  As difficult as it is, it’s really important to accept that our bodies alter and shift as time passes.  It’s perfectly OK to mourn the shape and size you once were, but I think it’s also a good idea to begin to celebrate some good things about your new shape.  For example, I’m trying to feel chuffed about the fact that I finally have boobs, after years of struggling with push-up bras.  Find something that you like, celebrate that and build from there.

Get rid of clothes that trigger self hate.

This one has been hard for me, because my clothes are a huge part of my life.  I love getting dressed in the morning, and I place a lot of emotional attachment to the items in my wardrobe.  For me those skinny jeans aren’t just a couple of denim tubes and a zipper, they have the power to make me feel fierce and sexy.  And when those fierce jeans will no longer zip, their power changes….they become a trigger for self loathing.  Lately I’ve been taking a long, hard look at my clothes, and I’ve gotten rid of a few things that I don’t think I’ll ever be able to wear again.  There are some I’m hanging onto because there’s a chance that they’ll fit someday.  But the ones that made me feel the shittiest had to go.  It’s hard to let go of those items because of the memories attached to them, and because in a way it feels like the end of a part of my life.  But sometimes you have to take a deep breath, let them go and then buy some new gear that makes you feel fierce and fabulous.

Do you struggle with your body when it changes?  What have you done to make that change easier?

Things I Love Thursday 6/8/2015

It’s Thursday and I’m ready to throw myself headlong into this week’s Things I Love Thursday list.  So let’s jump right in, shall we?

This week I love:

– Body epiphanies.  A few nights ago I was looking at some old photos and feeling shitty about my body.  I was so upset when I compared how my body looks now to how it looked a few years ago.  I’ve gained a bit of weight over the past few years, not a lot but a bit.  And I’m insecure about it.  But I realised that my body looks amazing now.  I’m super strong from yoga and I’m very toned.  And I also reminded myself that mentally I’m a lot more stable now than I was then and I take much better care of myself.  Back when those photos were taken, I was abusing my body to look the way I did.  I restricted the food I’d eat and I was using exercise as a punishment.  Nowadays I eat a more balanced diet and I enjoy my food.  I’ve found that I love yoga and prefer to do a daily yoga workout than several grueling  running sessions a week.  I think that my happiness and sanity is a fair trade off for a thinner body.

-Cupping massages.  I had my first one in a year and it was amazing.  I got the most terrible bruises from the gliding cups but my back and shoulders feel looser than they have in ages.  It’s brilliant.

– Finding an amazing craft shop while on a date with my girlfriend.  Rah and I were shopping in the city last weekend and we accidentally stumbled across a store called Morris and Sons.  It was a wonderland of yarns and patterns and I went crazy buying beautiful balls of yarn.  I could have spent hundreds of dollars in there, but I restrained myself.

– Oolong tea.

– Dried apricots.  So delicious.

– Celebrating my brother’s new job.  I’m so proud of him.

– Great work weeks where everything seems to just fall into place.

– Working on some new knitting projects and being utterly chuffed with how each one has turned out.

– Sleeping with a cat tucked under each arm.

– Lazy, rainy afternoons with a blanket and a book.

– Sweet kisses from my man.

– Being able to taste and smell things again after weeks of blocked sinuses.

-Finally getting my blog reader to zero.  I haven’t cleared it out in almost six months and it was so good to get back into reading my favourite blogs again.

What do you love this week?

5 Fandom Friday: My comfort films.

Ah yes, the concept of a “comfort film” is one that’s well known to me.  I have a selection of movies that I’ll pop on when I’m feeling sick, blue or otherwise blah.  These magical movies transport me to other worlds and make me feel so much better.

1 A Series of Unfortunate Events

For years this has been my go-to sick day movie.  When I’m home sick with a cold or a migraine this is the film I reach for.  I enjoy the dry wit that runs through the film, and I always feel a bit better when I compare my lives to that of the Baudelaire orphans.

2. The Wizard of Oz

This film is one of my two all-time favourites.  Nothing calms my spirits quite like popping this in the DVD player and taking a trip over the rainbow.  From the moment Dorothy opens her door into the colourful land of Oz, I feel as though my troubles have melted like lemon drops and drifted away.  It’s the perfect way to escape from the problems in real life.

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3. The Court Jester

Any Danny Kaye movie is a great movie in my book, but the Court Jester is something really special.  It’s impossible to feel sorry for yourself when you’re giggling at Danny’s sharp banter, wordplay and sensational footwork.

4. Hook

This Peter Pan adaptation is amazing for so many reasons.  For one, it stars Robin Williams, Maggie Smith and Bob Hoskins.  It’s a rollicking adventure into Neverland with so many high-energy scenes.  And it’s got plenty of tear-jerking moments if you need a bit of a cry but you can’t seem to get the tears flowing.  Plus I love shouting the word “Bangarang!” in celebration at regular intervals during the film.

5. The Princess Bride.

Ah, what could be more reassuring and comforting than a tale of twu wuv?  This film is brimming with hope even in the most desperate of situations.  And it’s jolly funny too.

 

What are your comfort films?  I’d love to have a few new ones to add to my list, so feel free to share in the comments.

The struggle between control and letting go.

I’m a firm believer in going after what you want.  If there is something in my life that I wish were different, I will do whatever is in my power to change it.  However, there’s always a bit of difficulty in deciding what is within my power and what is outside my control.

There is a point when you’re working towards something when you have to relinquish control and just let things happen.  But I’ve learned that I’m not good at identifying when that point arrives and deciding to let go at the appropriate time.  Part of this is possibly due to my anxiety, part of it is probably because I’m a perfectionist who is fiercely independent and wants to do Everything For Myself.  And part of likely comes down to the fact that I’m a bit impatient and I want everything good to happen Right Now.

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I feel as though I’m constantly torn between two beliefs: that of “If it’s meant to be, it will be” and “If you want it, you have to make it happen”.  I often feel the pull between these two ideas, never quite knowing how to draw the line between them.

On the one hand, I’m not about to sit on my backside and wait for good things to come to me.  It’s not in my nature to just wait patiently while expending only the energy to send out some positive thoughts.  While I think that positive thoughts are great, they need to be coupled with dedicated action if you’re actually going to get somewhere.

That being said, all the dedicated action in the world isn’t always enough to propel you towards your goal.  Sometimes, even though you’ve worked really hard, the stars just never quite align and opportunities don’t present themselves as quickly as you’d hoped.   If you keep slaving away, you’ll eventually just work yourself into the ground, so you have to just let things go a little bit.

For me, one thing that has helped me to straddle the line between “working towards a goal” and “letting things unfold naturally” has been to identify where the control in a situation lies.  Often in a scenario, we have some degree of control, but we aren’t able to influence the entire outcome.  Once I’ve found the things I can control, I put my energy into working on these areas.  For example, if I’m going for a job interview, I can’t control the questions I’m asked or the final decision. But I can control my presentation by making sure I’m well-dressed and that I’m equipped with an up-to-date resume.  I can control my ability to answer the questions by researching the company I’ll be working with, thinking about some answers to common questions and trying to remain calm during the interview.  Once I’m out of that interview room, there’s little more I can do, so worrying about it is pointless.  So I try to put my worries out of my mind.

When I get to a point where I’ve done all that I can do to the best of my ability, it’s time to step back.  It’s true that sometimes you have to be patient and just allow things to happen.  And once you’ve done your bit, it’s that much easier to hand the reigns over to the universe and let it drive for a while.

Also, if I get to a point where I feel like I’ve been working my fingers to the bone and I’m still beating my head against a wall, then I find it’s time to relinquish my stranglehold on the situation.  Often, things take a bit of time to take shape and you need to give yourself space to see the bigger picture.  It will pay to let go a little, trust me.

Do you struggle between control and letting go?  How do you deal with this conundrum?

Pamper yourself with a homemade organic facial

Today’s post is written by Cassie Brewer.  Cassie is a health and beauty journalist who writes about a host of topics including makeup, skincare, fitness and hairstyles.  If you’d like to read more of her work you can visit her blog or follow her on Twitter.

 

Softer, more gorgeous skin can easily be achieved with a DIY organic facial. It’s a great way to unwind at the end of the day, plus with the use of luxurious ingredients you can give your facials a spa quality. Sit back, relax, and let the facial work its magic!

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The great thing about using organic ingredients in your skincare routine is that you probably already have some of them in your kitchen or pantry. Added to this, you’re not putting anything on your skin that’s chemically-based, which makes it much better for your skin as well as your general health.

 

Some of the most pampering facial ingredients include:

 

  • Honey

 

It’s rich and thick, just perfect to soothe your skin. Honey is a natural antibacterial, so it helps to keep blemishes at bay as well as treat them. It’s also filled with antioxidants to make your skin youthful for longer.

  • Rosewater

 

This water is healing for skin plus it smells delicious. It fights acne and keeps skin hydrated, smooth and moisturized. Rosewater is revered as a skin toner while its antioxidants work to regenerate the skin’s tissues.

 

You can make your own rosewater toner easily just by pouring two cups of boiling water over one cup of rose petals. Cover it and let it sit for an hour or so until it has cooled down. Then, squeeze the petals to release their water and refrigerate it in a jar so that it’s available when you need it.

 

 

 

  • Almond Oil

 

Oil from almonds is highly moisturizing for skin so you definitely want to use it in a pampering homemade facial recipe, especially if your skin is feeling tight or dry. Almond oil contains a variety of nutrients your skin needs to flourish, such as Vitamins A, B and E, which make your complexion glow. Almond oil is such a great moisturizer because it penetrates deeply into the skin’s layers to hydrate them at a base level.

The above three ingredients can be used in one recipe. It’s a great way to reap all their benefits! All you need are the following:

 

– two tablespoons of rosewater (such as from the above recipe)

– three drops of almond oil

– two tablespoons of organic honey

– half a teaspoon of rose essential oil

 

Mix the ingredients together so that you get a creamy consistency. Refrigerate it for approximately 20 minutes, then apply it to your face. Massage it gently as you do. Sit with the mixture for 15 minutes before washing it off. This makes your skin feel luxurious as it locks in moisture and after being refrigerated the mixture will also be refreshing to skin.

 

Tips for Successful Facials

 

  1. Cleanse First!

 

It’s important to note that you should prepare your skin for a facial by cleansing it well. This gets rid of any product build-up, oil and dirt, allowing the organic facial ingredients to be better absorbed by your skin. Apply a cleanser to your damp face in gentle upward circles so that you exfoliate your skin while improving blood circulation.

 

  1. Finish with a Moisturizer

 

Always apply moisturizer to your skin after you have given yourself a facial. This is important to seal in moisture and nourishment.
Facials can be luxurious even when they’re homemade. By choosing highly pampering ingredients, you can turn your DIY facial into a lavish treatment that de-stresses your mind while boosting the appearance of your skin.