Sunday, April 18, 2010

As I sit and breathe, “soft” gets explained.

A few nights ago, I spent a wonderful chunk of time, sitting naked in my husband's arms, breathing with him. It was such a consuming experience. Our bedroom was quiet and warm and the only sound I could hear was the air moving in and out of our bodies. It's a tantric exercise in intimacy in which the male partner sits comfortably with the female partner on his lap, straddling his legs, often her legs around his waist, facing each other. Traditionally, he times his breath ratios to breath with her. When she inhales, he exhales; when she exhales, he inhales. We've had to modify this because Michael would suffocate trying to follow me. Years of yoga breath training means when I'm relaxed and comfortable, I often breathe in 30 second plus cycles – twice a minute as opposed to the typical adult respiratory rate of 12-20 times a minute. Michael's actually more like 6-8 times a minute but for me, even at this 'rapid' pace of breathing is a delicious exercise in intimacy.

We said nothing although I could hear his heart. I found peace, relaxation and renewal. At first it was just breathing that synchronized. The physical connection enhanced a sense of emotional intimacy. I found myself drawn closer and closer to him, more and more engaged in breathing with him, following his lead. I wanted to get lost in him completely. The feeling was mutual, even if his state of arousal was more immediately apparent then was mine. I wanted him to love me more intensely than I've ever wanted it before. I truly needed him and when he entered me, I felt whole and completed. Our union was so much more than merely physical. For the first time ever, I felt truly and completely at one with my lover.

All of these are things I've felt to some degree before but this time, it was all consuming. It was truly transcendental. Time lost all sense of meaning. I don't even have words to explain the depth and dimensions of the experience. I just know it was profoundly moving for both of us. And soon, our conscious awareness returned to listening to the other's breath.

"I nurture you." Those were the first words spoken between us in almost an hour and it wasn't just the post-coital confusion that rendered them senseless. I looked up at him and blinked, in obvious confusion.

"The softer thing that you wrote about having you all confused. That's what it's about. I protect you. I look after you. I've never done that."

After talking with him, I think he's truly surprised to discover what I've known all along. He's thrown for a loop to discover just how sensitive a man he truly is. He's spent a lifetime cultivating forceful and impenetrable armour for the world. I know he's very driven at work. He's goal oriented and highly disciplined. He's a 'hard-ass' to work for. He's decisive and more likely to be thought of as 'demanding' than 'comforting'. But that's stuff that I so rarely see. I've never had many encounters with his 'work persona'. Right from our first dates, and our extended telephone/email courtship at the very beginning, I got the sensitive, thoughtful and reflective Michael. The impatient, brusque and no-nonsense Michael rarely shows his form around our house.

But apparently, my Michael – the sensitive, engaged, peaceful Michael – is the stronger of the two. His recently discovered ability to build and create strength in relationships is moving into his work place. I'd be telling tales out of school if I gave specifics, but I do agree that he's probably become a better boss in the past year.

I don't think I've taught him anything or changed him in any way. I'm just the catalyst to all this. I've just given him an excuse to show his own true self. He's a very loving and patient man at heart. I'm just glad to see that the rest of the world is starting to benefit from the strength of his big heart.

I didn't make him softer. He just needed a little practice in how to let it shine forth.


Wednesday, April 14, 2010

New Directions… maybe?

I haven't written much lately for a few reasons. One is that we're just amazingly busy. The end of term is upon us and I'm prepping for final exams. Michael's back to traveling a lot for business reasons. The luxury of having him home every night has come to a close for another while.

The second reason is a little more … well, it's just odd and I'm a little at a loss to understand it myself. People who know me well know I'm pretty committed to the practice of yoga. I've been "doing yoga" since my early teens and actually, I'm qualified to teach it. It's been a constant part of my life for well over a decade now. Michael has always been respectful of that part of my life although he doesn't have much interest in it, per se.

Well, that's not entirely true. He has no interest in the postural practice that we in North America equate with 'doing yoga" – you know, all that pretzel bend stuff. For the record, that comprises about 8% of what yoga is, although it's an important 8%. He enjoys the philosophy and likes to talk to me about what aspect of the philosophy I'm wrestling with at any particular point in time. It's fodder for frequent discussions between us and is something that's been one of the threads in the bond between us.

Yoga has something to say about almost every aspect of life (other than what God looks like and does He/She write books or have kids) and sexuality is no different. Now, first off, yoga is a BIG tradition. That's what happens when you've been around for 4000 years – there's lots of viewpoints from the very ascetic to the very hedonistic and a few thousand variations and combinations in between. There are schools of yoga that demand celibacy and … well, the Kama Sutra IS a yoga text.

For five years or maybe a bit more, I've wanted to explore Tantric yoga and sexuality – specifically, the idea of using sexual energy as a means of liberation. I've stayed away from it because ... well, it's not about sex, orgasms or positions. It's an extremely intimate practice. Tantric sexuality is about energy between a man and a woman in a safe, loving relationship. It has to be handled cautiously and with respect because it solidifies bonds between lovers. Personally, I think it's dangerous, certainly on an emotional plane, to use it casually and recklessly for the purpose of having some freaky cum-fest. In fact, orgasm is pretty secondary to the whole process and it certainly isn't a "goal".

On our honeymoon, my desire to explore some of the principles of Tantra came up in one of many conversations and the more we talked, the more interested Michael was… at least after I explained that it wasn't just about a bunch of weird positions. First of all, it's a spiritual practice that celebrates the unifying bliss of loving sexual expression.

We've slowly been incorporating some of the ideas into our life and when I think about all this, part of my brain says this is totally different than BDSM and the other part of my brain argues that it's exactly BDSM. I'm finding it difficult to characterize and analyze, so it's been difficult to write about it. In the end, perhaps what I need to do is stop analyzing and just be with it. I think I'm too involved to have any sort of perspective on it.

So what is Tantra? To me, it's not about technique. It's about attitude. It's about how we come to one another as lovers. And for me, it's been very empowering over the past six weeks. So what's changed for us? Well, I suspect this is more than one blog but one of the things that has changed is our bedroom. We've made a decision to treat it like sacred space. We bought some new bedding and most importantly, the television has been removed from it. This is a consecrated and holy space where we come together as a couple without any distractions. Michael has absolutely promised me that he won't use the space to do work in. He has a home office to do that. No laptops, no TVs, no gaming systems, no reading. Our bedroom is for two purposes only – to sleep and to make love.

Given the amount of eye-rolling that went with it, I don't think he was overly convinced and my terms, for the lack of a better word, were filed under the category of "Oh, the things I do to make her happy". Six weeks later, he admits it's made a difference for both of us. He's noticed it mostly in the fact that he falls asleep much better in the 'new bedroom'. Entering the bedroom has become one of his body's 'sleep cues', helping him shut down emotionally and mentally enough to sleep properly. For me, it's an eroticized space. I find my sexual responsiveness is much more accessible when I'm there. Just being in the room makes me a little tingly and for the first time ever, in my entire life, I've initiated sexual play. This, my husband assures me, is a huge turn on for a man, or at least it is for him.

I don't know if this is 'new' territory for us or just a natural continuation of the bonds we've been forging over the past year. I don't know if the exploration of tantric sexuality is the cause of my new found lustiness or if it's because I finally feel safe and secure in a relationship. In the end, I don't think it matters. These are just points of curiosity that I have.

I don't know where we're going with this. I'm just enjoying the journey right now. Does that mean we'll never play again with some of the toys and accoutrements of "kink"? I suspect we'll be back to it at some point but right now, it just doesn't feel right and I'm good with that.


Sunday, April 4, 2010

He Makes Me Feel Beautiful

I've been trying to pinpoint in my mind what makes Michael different than any other man I've been with and I finally decided it's his ability to make me feel beautiful and special, all the time. I'm not talking about perfect hair, perfect nails, just home from the spa, don't I look fabulous. I'm talking about the things that make me feel beautiful when my nail polish is chipped, my hair is pulled back in a ponytail, no make-up and wearing gym togs – not that things have gotten completely that out of hand or anything.

This weekend was Easter and we both took a break from our collective and separate responsibilities to enjoy a well deserved weekend at rest. My father spent most of it with us and we had time to cook and eat and talk and relax as a family. Today, just after Mass, when I was in the kitchen preparing lunch for the three of us, my husband stood behind me and slipped his arms around my waist and pulled me in close to him.

After a little teasing conversation about the nature of lunch and what it would be if my father wasn't present, Michael dropped an emotional firecracker. "You've made me a better man." And with a quick kiss, he was off and out of the kitchen.

Huhhhhhh? Where did that come from? It was something I puzzled over as I made the sandwiches and the salads and laid the table but of course, no time to talk about it and not the space to do it. I had to wait until my father went out for his ritual after lunch walk. Michael laughed as I pestered him to explain himself.

"You've made me softer." He wouldn't add much more than that. Sometime, when he's ready, he'll tell me what it's all about. Patience is something I've learned to cultivate when it comes to him but of course, I'm curious. "Softer" is not something I associate with 'Dom".

It's interesting to me because in some respects I've always looked at our relationship from the perspective of what Michael does for me. Intellectually, I know it's a two way street and that he derives some benefit from me as well, but I've never given much thought as to what impact I have on his life. I am content to know that he is pleased with me and has been so all of our relationship. Perhaps a point of foolish pride, but I'm very pleased with myself to know there's been very few occasions when he's felt the need to correct me. I find him to be an easy man to serve. In return, Michael has given me so much – safety, security, love, forgiveness, a sense of place and belonging. He grounds me and gives my life a consistency that's been lacking for so long. I know my place here and my place is with Michael. I feel beautiful inside when I'm with him. I feel whole and complete.

I'll admit that the whole "You make me softer" has thrown me. It obvious from his tone and manner that he's comfortable with this "softer"…softer what I have no idea… and I'd really like to go pull the answers out of him right this minute.

Do dominant men evolve towards 'softer'? Right now, we're at opposite ends of many spectra. Does our union mean we're both migrating towards a common footing on matters of outlook and philosophy? It's obvious that we're in a new phase of our relationship. The courtship is over. Now we're smoothing the foundations of our married life. I'm both excited and anxious about it, to tell the truth. A bond is growing between us and I'm not sure I can fully explain the nature of it but things feel good right now.

I know I'm rambling here. Please forgive me but my brain isn't overly logical today. That whole "softer" bit has me chasing my metaphorical tale.



Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Waves from the Library…

Hi folks.. I know I've been somewhat negligent in blogging of late. It's the end of term and I'm trying to get ready for final exams. Truly, my mind has been preoccupied with matters of American history and Gross Anatomy & Physiology.

Marriage is fitting me well. I'm happy and content. It's a very solid feeling of belonging. I feel safe and that someone has my back. Of course, as soon as I type those words, I think about the last woman who said that expression publicly, only to regret it later. Not that it's my intention to gossip about two people I've never met and don't know, but gosh, I can't help but feel some stirring of compassion for Sandra Bullock these days.

I've decided (we've decided?) that I'm going to take intersession and summer session courses this year. There's nothing I want more than to get this danged degree done and then I can get on with my life – whatever that means for me. Work? Grad school? Re-open my old business? Stay at home mom? I have no idea what the future holds and that's good. For the first time ever, I'm perfectly happy not having a long term plan. What will happen will happen. We'll make the best decisions we can at the time with what we know at the time.

Hello, God.. do you even recognize me anymore? The tears and anxiety and fear have melted into the past. Part of why this 'blog has been so … neglected would be the right word, I think… so neglected is I am ridiculously content with my life. I'm busy for sure. It's the end of term, finals coming up, Michael has had a lot of formal business entertaining that he expects me to assist with… but it doesn't feel crazy. Even with all the demands on time, it feels good. I know what's expected of me and I can count on that.

Right now, I need to get to bed. My days have been productive but long and I'm tired. I just thought I should drop a line to let everyone know that my absence is because I'm in a very happy place right now … and I'm sure none of you are keen on the functions of the tibialis anterior muscle etc. Hint: it acts to dorsiflex and invert the foot … aren't you glad you tuned in tonight.

Thanks for reading and to all who have sent the little *knock knock, you ok* messages, I just want you know, I am feeling wonderful. Thank you for caring. I consider you one of the many blessings in my life.


Sunday, March 14, 2010

Happiness is…

There you have it – I'm a ridiculously content little doll these days. Although it's been all of two weeks, marriage has been good for me emotionally. I belong. Finally, after all this time, I belong. There is a man who wants me above all others and he has the guts to say it out loud. That just has to be good for a girl's ego.

And for me, it's surprising how much things changed between us. It's like we were heading in that direction all along and the judge's words were some type of magic incantation that just made everything manifest within us. Prior to my marriage, I would have sworn I didn't hold anything back from Michael. I truly believed that there was no resistance to him – physically, emotionally or mentally.


No one was more surprised than me to experience this but as I snuggled up against my husband, languishing in the soft glow of the hotel room and our lovemaking, talking softly in the semi-dark, I felt something deep inside me dissolving. Wariness, distrust, fear of rejection, fear of abandonment, anxiety about being 'good enough', anxiety of whether I measured up to previous girlfriends, lovers and his former wife.

Intellectually, politically, I have always been 100% in support of the right of homosexual couples to marry. I found no logic present amongst the arguments of its opponents. On the one occasion when I met former Prime Minister Martin, the only thing I conveyed to him was how proud I was as a Canadian for his support on the issue and his willingness to push it politically. It was the right thing to do even if unpopular in some circles. But up until now, I truly didn't get how important the issue was. Marriage is a civil union – yes. But not all civil unions are marriages and while it's hard for me to articulate the difference – oh la, la, it is there and it is real.

Marriage has changed me (and yes, it's only been 2 weeks) but that doesn't make it any less significant. Over the course of days, I've found that when my old anxious ghosts return to regain entry to my psyche, all I need to do is look at my wedding ring and they're again banished.

Marriage changes everything.


Friday, March 12, 2010

Is it Friday already??

It's been wildly busy this week. Classes and teaching and more classes and reading and studying.

I did listen to all of your kind advice and I've decided to change my name to Michael's . I'm now "doll Let-Me-Spell-That-For-You"

Home again for this weekend. End of term is almost upon us and final exams!!! Then... I think intersession? Apparently, I'm a masochist, just not in the bedroom.

Have a lovely weekend everyone. Hopefully next week I'll settle down and actually write something.


Monday, March 8, 2010

What’s in a name?

"What's in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell just as sweet."
(William Shakespeare, Romeo and Juliet, Act II, Scene II)

Amusing story from the honeymoon – We were checking into the hotel in Toronto, having been married less than 6 hours at this point. Michael was standing at the desk, filling out the registration information when he turned to me and said, "Who are you anyway?"

The clerk flinched but like all front desk staff around the world, you needed to be at just the right angle to catch it. I started to laugh and Michael clued into his unintended joke. He laughed and slightly sheepishly, told the clerk we'd just been married and well, what name…

We had never discussed it before the wedding and in my mind, I always thought it would automatic for me to assume my husband's surname upon marriage. In fact, if Michael had written down "Mr. & Mrs. Michael Smith", it would have been a done deal. But he didn't assume and turned to ask, and in that moment, I hesitated and I realized I was unsure of the answer.

"I don't know" was my answer and the question was fodder for many conversations over the next week. I'm very ambivalent over it right now. I bounce back and forth. I'm an only child which means my father has no sons to carry forth his name into the next generation. There's part of me that hates the idea of it dying out here but truly, that is the nature of life.

The other part of me loves the idea of 40 years from now, Michael and I being "The Smiths over on Walnut St". I like the idea of the unity and the tradition of it all.

I asked Michael about his preferences. He thought about it a bit, "My first wife took my name when we got married. It didn't help one bit." He's firmly in Bill Shakespeare's camp on the matter. He doesn't care if I answer to Smith or Jones, just so long as I continue to answer to him and him alone.

There's another point, although rather minor in the scheme of things. I have a very common surname. I rarely need to spell it out to someone. Michael, on the other hand, descends from Danish immigrants to Canada. His surname has unusual phonetic combinations and he's always spelling it out, and the listener still runs a 50% chance of getting it wrong. At one point, when he was charging something to our room at the resort, and had spelled his name out three times for the staff member, he turned to me and said in mock exasperation, "Screw it. I'm changing MY name to yours."

I've given myself to the end of the week to decide what I'm doing with it. Is the symbolic gesture worth all the time and paperwork it'll take to change my official profile in the world? Does it mean anything to anyone really? After all, whether the surname is Scottish or Danish, I'll still be a ~~doll~~.