If You Say So

Hey Friends, this post is a bit, well, sexual. If we are family or business colleagues or you just don’t want to know those types of things about me, please don’t read this! I am not interested in having awkward conversations about it. Also, for everyone, please note that this post contains discussion of rough sex, consensual non-consent, and graphic sex. Everything is written based on my experiences, and my experiences alone. Please protect yourself if this is something that might be hard for you. Thanks!

As I’ve been coming back to myself and my sexuality lately, I’ve been thinking a lot (a lot) about kink. Specifically, asking myself how I feel connected to it, now that some time away from dating has passed. Over the years beginning in 2007 onwards, I tried a variety of kinky modes to see if any would stick. Some examples include:

  • Bondage which caused, well panic. I absolutely cannot handle being held in place by rope. It’s such a hard limit for me;
  • Psychological bondage, though? Not being able to move simply because someone has told me not to? Now we’re talking;
  • Degradation I found to be annoying. Someone trying to humiliate me by being mean to me? Definitely not my jam and did not make me have any interest in pleasing them. I just wanted to leave every time;
  • Rough sex, as in very rough. Extremely heavy slaps, choking to the point of (almost) passing out, face fucking, and being thrown around like a rag doll. Fun, yes, but you can do all of those things with less … force, and they’re just as good. Honestly, control over chaos wins every time, plus having chronic pain now means I have to be a bit more gentle with myself;
  • DD/lg; Jory and I had a Daddy / baby girl relationship for a while and it was lovely. I was definitely starting to deal with my illnesses at the time, and needed the escape of cuteness in our sex lives to soften the blow of my increasingly depressing reality and he’s so lovely at it. When chronic pain made me feel like a burden, being taken care of in this super sweet way helped me feel less bad about my needs. Jory still gets the title of Daddy over anyone else, and I love when we play like this a bit, though I’m less about the cutesies as a distraction from life method nowadays.

Out of all of these different modes one thread consistently keeps appearing everywhere, and that’s (consensual) obedience.

On the surface, I am not an obedient person. I have been challenging why we have to do stuff the way we do stuff for as long as I can remember. Not so much initially in an “authority is bad” way, though I certainly believe that to be true today. I just always questioned everything. Less “why is the sky blue?” and more “but that way doesn’t work as well, so I’m going to do it my own way now”. At 7 years old in English private school, my Form Mistress wrote this comment in my Autumn term report card, which I think sums up my entire life to this point:

Samantha must listen carefully and take the advice she is given. Her few weaknesses come mainly from wanting to do her “own thing”, which in some circumstances is not always the best for her.

Now Miss Bogan was right about this; if I haven’t been happy with how a thing is being done, chances are I’ve developed my own way of dealing with it. For the longest time, I simply assumed that the way I moved through the world was the same way everyone else did. I didn’t realize that my behaviour wasn’t the norm. When a rule or suggested guideline didn’t resonate with me, I didn’t follow it, always believing that it’s easier to ask for forgiveness than permission. I say this in the past tense, but really the same is as true for me today as a 41 year old woman as it was for me as a 15 year old kid. I have always questioned authority when it’s come to rules and guidelines. At the very least, rules are meant to be tested, but often I’d much rather break them if they don’t appear to be well thought out. Rules for the sake of rules? What’s the point!

And this next point is key. I’ve never wanted to break rules because I’m a bad person who wants to “stick it to the man”. I haven’t been trying to rebel; I’ve simply wanted to figure why we do the things we do in life. I’m not about doing things differently just for the sake of it, but I’ve also never been about doing things the same way as everyone else, just because, either. The exceptions, of course, are when it comes to societal moral and ethical expectations of us as citizens. In those circumstances, I will always go along with doing what’s right. Being a good and kind human, and sometimes going above and beyond, does rule above all else for me.

In my 20s when I was a wedding planner for a period of time, I set out with the intention of only doing non-traditional events. I worked with couples who all said they wanted to do their special day differently, but the further we went along in the process, the more traditions, they had originally said no to, kept creeping back in. It was both frustrating and enlightening, trying to understand why they felt they had to do some things that they didn’t have any real personal attachment to. I’m all about traditions – of course in the “make my own” kind of way – but it drove me batty that so many of them adopted wedding day staples they didn’t even care about. I quickly knew it wasn’t the job for me, though I definitely had a lot of fun doing it.

In my own life now I love traditions because they are ones that I’ve chosen myself with purpose and intent. If a particular aspect of a holiday doesn’t resonate with us, we don’t do it just because everyone else does. We make it our own.

My relationship with obedience has been a journey, but it’s what I keep coming back to when thinking of kinky sexual relationships I want to have. We’ve clearly established that I’m not a Yes Man. I don’t blindly follow the herd. Instead, I would rather be a kind and compassionate weirdo, navigating her own way through, vs a person who never questions why they do things, or takes time to determine if what they’re doing is right or wrong. My will is extremely strong. I am 100% my own woman and rarely care what strangers think of me for it. So, why is it that when a dominant partner – or even one who’s only casually dominant – tells me what to do, that I both almost immediately fall in line and find myself often extremely turned on by it?

Part of the answer lies in the simple audacity of them attempting such control over me. We’ve established that I don’t present as a person who’s going to do what she’s told, but I’m also not a brat. I mean, I’ll tell a dominant partner that they’re being annoying for their sometimes outlandish requests, but I’ll more than likely still do them, (as long as I am comfortably, am not physically hurting myself, and aren’t going past a hard limit just to please someone). As I said above, I don’t do my own thing to be a rebel, I simply want there to be justifiable motivation behind the choices that I, and those around me, make. So when a partner tells me, for example, that I have to stay perfectly still or that I’m not allowed to talk or that I must bend over and lift up my skirt to them because they said so, I’ll do it. Partially because of the fact that they have the guts to try telling me what to do. Like, don’t they know who they’re dealing with? They think that I’m going to just put that dick in my face and treat it like the most important task I’ve ever had in front of me? Seriously? Wait, oh, that’s actually what I’m doing? Oh, ok. Fair. Why though? Oh, because they’re telling me to and they seem to be very serious about it? I mean, ok. Sorry, I mean, of course. I mean, yes, Sir!

Obedience turns me on so much because it’s often taking something so silly and turning it into something so serious. Like, ok sure, pal. I’ll just interrupt my important day to go and touch myself because you told me to, uh huh. And then, oh hey look, I’ve found myself doing exactly that. Because of the audacity, you see! Don’t discount the fact that these things are fun, as well.

At the end of the day, I really love when my partner insists I do something because they want me to. They see this strong woman in front of them and realize that, with compelling enough motivation, she will bend to their will, because they had the guts to demand it of her. Who am I, a woman on her own path, to tell this man that he’s not allowed to walk his own and insist that I follow him along. Are you really going to let him get away with taking charge like that? Oh, yes, definitely, feminist me. I’m going to likely do whatever this man tells me to, because I don’t actually have a good reason not to, but he sure seems like he’s got a good reason for me doing it. And that’s the heart of it, right there. It’s about forward motion. It’s about them deciding that this is how it is now, that they’re in charge and I’m going to do as they say. It’s about them knowing that I cannot argue with our mutual pleasure as a motivation. It’s about the fact that they’re making a choice and not just telling me what to do because they think they’re supposed to.

And also, do you know what an absolute fucking delight it is for me to take a break and not question the why of everything I’m doing? To realize that, in that moment in time, whether I’m in his bed in my house, at their feet, underneath her, or behind a screen across town, I don’t have to decide what happens next. The thinking is being done for me and I am free to be, well, free.

Let’s get back to the audacity component (because obviously I love it). I find confidence to be incredibly attractive, both in and out of the bedroom. When a lover knows what they want and goes for it, who am I to stand in the way of their dreams! And if their dreams happen to (consensually) challenge my relationship with my boundaries, isn’t that part of the fun for me? I want people to feel good, both physically and mentally. And my gosh it feels good to know that a submissive partner trusts that you have everyone’s best interests at heart. To know that you will instruct this person and they will do what you ask because they want to.

Having been on both sides of this one, I can say with certainty that there is a beautiful escape to be found on either side. Truth be completely told, y’all know that I also love attention and am forever simply wanting to be seen. To be validated. To matter. When a lover takes control, I couldn’t possibly be more seen than in that moment. For suddenly, everything I do is under the microscope. Am I positioning my body to be used somehow? Am I choosing my words very carefully, trying but likely happily failing to avoid the perfect slap on the face? Whatever it is, I am the centre of attention, even if I’m just being used as an ottoman. My every breath matters in that instruction, whether it’s as innocent as being flipped into a new position on the bed or as intense as not being allowed to talk for even 15 minutes. 

I am taking a break from my brain. I am being seen. I am being of service. I am making them proud. And damn, if my body isn’t responding in waves.

It’s completely invigorating to be with a lover who knows that you’re a strong, independent person, in control of your own life. Yet here you are, feeling so pulled by the possibility of not having to be in control for once that you’ll let them take over. I love being my own person but gosh I sure do like getting to take a break from myself every now and then. To immerse myself in my lover’s world. To be what they want me to be and to do what want me to do. To be used as they see fit. We know I won’t rebel, but I will be a) clear about my hard limits and b) a little sassy at times when they know they’re pushing me close to the edge of my flexible ones. For the most part though, I’ll do as I’m told. Always choosing kind, stern control over chaos and uncertainty.

Obedience brings me purpose, even if it’s temporary. It can both scare me and bring me immense joy. I can offer it to a dominant or accept it from a submissive. It keeps me both on edge and content. I get to experience the world through another person’s expectations, forgetting that mine exist.

I thought now I might share some of my favourite obedience moments from my life, some long ago and others more recent. I’ve left names out of it. For most of these, I’m the one who’s relinquished control, though every now and then I’ll treat you to a switch. I realize that I haven’t said it yet but I don’t believe that kinky compliance has to be a full Yes, Sir, no, Sir scenario. Even the smallest of actions with intent can hit the right note.

I love(d) obedience when:

  • I’m sucking his cock and he stops me to turn me around because he absolutely needs to fuck me;
  • He needs me to be quiet and, as shushing makes me moan more, he tells me to shut up while he’s fucking me. He covers my mouth, growls it into my ear. I’m in such awe of how this beautiful, kind, and funny man is using me for his pleasure in that moment that I gladly make no further sounds;
  • The way I made her look me in the eyes while she came, and again. How she collapsed into me when I told her how wonderful and pretty she was for sharing that with me;
  • The way he told me to go to the restaurant bathroom to take a photo of my pussy to send to him once I got back to the table;
  • The way I seized the moment and kissed them against my car on our first date, and they almost fell over in delight;
  • How I told her to show us both what a very good girl she was;
  • Watching his happy and proud face while I went down on her;
  • Being told not to talk and having to communicate my desires with just my face and moans;
  • When I laid underneath her, telling her how pretty she was and so good for being fucked by him on top of me;
  • When out for drinks, I spend the entire evening in anticipation, waiting for the conversation to turn dirty, waiting to feel completely naked at the table, whilst (pre-pandemic) close to so many strangers;
  • As we fuck, he grabs my hands to hold me down in place underneath his weight and motion;
  • I’m at their place and I find myself unsure of what to do. I sit on the couch. I sip my drink. I wait while they watch me squirm, knowing that I’m ready whenever they say the word;
  • He kisses me on the forehead and, just for a brief moment, I don’t need to worry or think;
  • On the drive back he says “From now on, you can only say Yes, Daddy or No, Daddy. Do you understand?”;
  • Hearing “We’re going to go to my place now and I expect you to be on your best behaviour when we get there”;
  • I stand in the middle of the room and slowly undress myself. They lift my arms up and push my legs apart. I am, inspected;
  • He scares me with the threat of a (consensual) face slap if I deviate at all from his instructions;
  • Feeling the scary, yet beautiful subspace weight of his disappointment in me if I get it wrong (and the glorious security in aftercare that makes it all ok);
  • I go into the bedroom and see that he’s already laid out our plans for the evening. I just have to show up and do as I’m told;
  • I’m grabbed by my lips, my cheeks. My face is squeezed in ways where I must look silly, but I let them grab at me however they want as their plaything;
  • He takes my coat and then tells me to twirl in my dress for him so he can really see me;
  • When he pulls me by the hair and says to me, “You’re mine”;
  • I grab his hand as he leads me to the bedroom. He pushes me down, ass up facing him, so he can appreciate and explore;
  • I wasn’t allowed to cum for days until they told me that I could;
  • He told me to fuck my partner that evening, and I got to feel like I was fucking both when it happened;
  • He’s made me crawl over to him, slowly, not dropping eye contact, staying upright, waiting to hear what’s next;
  • When I’m crying from a painful spanking session and they grab me to snuggle me close and tend to my bruises;
  • The look in his eyes when he rests his fingers on my mouth and I hold his gaze while sucking on them deeply;
  • How it never matters if I worry that I’ll look bad in a photo he tells me to take because he doesn’t think I do;
  • How only a few words can make me confess anything, simply because he’s curious and I love the attention;
  • When I know what it feels like to be her and how much I want to give her the world in that moment. To see her, to help her feel safe, to take care of what’s next.

Thanks for reading, as always. <3

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Queen No Fun

I have a very particular insecurity that being chronically ill has helped me become much more consciously aware of recently. Years of turning down invitations to get togethers, going out but leaving early, or asking for the tv to be less loud, less bright, in fact just turn everything off! … it has all convinced me that I am the Queen of No Fun. Zero fun, in fact. When everything I do is forged through the added barrier of pain and discomfort, it often feels as if I have no energy left to spare for much needed levity. Because of this frequent depletion of energy, my insecurity has told me I am boring and not fun to be around, whatsoever.

To be honest, I don’t know if I was ever that much fun to begin with. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve shown up to a place, where friends or family have already gathered, with a scowl on my face, even though I was excited to be there and to see everyone. Let me take a few minutes to be a fly on the wall, get the lay of the land, and get settled in and then Happy Me will maybe appear. If I don’t get that time it’s a lot harder to relax, enjoy myself, and not make everyone else around me cranky too. It’s only now that I’m actually putting words to this annoying no-fun emotion that’s been getting in my way for years! Hopefully I can work around it now that I’ve really identified it because it’s a negative experience that’s caused me to really be no fun.

Also, being in a larger body for years meant that I often subconsciously avoided being more boisterous in public so that no one would notice me. I was “fun” as a younger drunken slut, sure, but that was always tied up in how much I sought male attention during the first few years of non-monogamy (haha, ok now too, fine). I’ve convinced others, but worse myself, that I’ve not been interested in all sorts of probably fun activities over the years, simply because I didn’t want to be noticed doing them. If you said that society brought me up to think of my always fat body as a thing ne’er to be seen, I’d definitely agree. Never to be noticed. Not to demand attention of others. So I leaned heavily into being more invisible in certain situations. This insecurity – and admittedly Steph rarely wanting to try new things – has caused me to not participate in lots of stuff over the years. It’s why I completely failed at getting any when we hosted a sexy party for my birthday a few years ok. In some circumstances, I am absolutely terrible at being the center of attention and, well, ruin the fun.

Most of my time on the planet can be divided into my two main modes of existence. The first is where I want all of the attention at any given time; I love this mode! It’s not that I want all of the attention in that mode always, but instead that I am ready for all of it should the mood strike the person or people I’m with. It’s usually a one-person at a time thing though, which might be why I don’t seek it out with groups of people I know.

The second, and much more frequent mode is when I don’t even want to be perceived. This is actually crucial to my “no fun” persona and I wish I didn’t feel it. I can be doing something so completely innocuous; maybe I’m writing a post like this one, grabbing a snack, or searching for a book to read. Someone, usually Steph or Jory as they’re the people I see the most, will simply notice me. Maybe they’ll start talking or casually asking me what I’m up to. In those moments, I feel myself recoiling and I really don’t know why. It’s not that I don’t want to talk to them or that I’m embarrassed to be doing whatever I’m doing; I simply want to be in that moment without being noticed. I want to be invisible and just float around, doing my thing. That’s where I’ve trained myself to find the most comfort and safety.

So, instead of answering the questions or being a kind and responsive human being when noticed, I get snarky and unkind in my responses, almost angry, as if it’s so unbelievably offensive that a loved one would want to engage with me while I’m obviously not even there. I rarely catch myself before it happens and the end result is always the same. I’ve been an asshole and feel confusingly resentful that my invisibility cloak somehow stopped working while the other person is reminded that I am a no fun snake, poised to bite at any opportunity. In reality it has little to do with them. It’s all about me wishing to hide. Yes, this is something I definitely need to work on! Perhaps too I also need to explain it to my people, to help them understand what is happening in my weirdo brain in those moments. That I’m not actually a no-fun little weasel, who hisses at anyone who dares interact with her as she just wants to sneak past and not bother anyone. You see, she’s just so used to bothering people thanks to pain and all of the requirements she needs to exist comfortably and feels bad about it. “Can you turn the volume down? Can the lights be off? Can you get me a pill?”

Chronic pain has for sure made moments of fun harder for me to find or recognize. Additionally, and as you’re well aware of, the pandemic has done all it can to suck joy out of everything, though I’m still working at seeing the joy in as many places as possible to counter this. It’s unbelievably hard though, for all of us. My body’s stress response to the pandemic has been raising my starting pain point to a much higher level. It’s meant I’ve often had a headache and/ or body flare-up for weeks or months on end while having to deal with all of the expectations of the world on top of that. Capitalism demands productivity. Relationships demand nurturing and care. Pain demands the most of me, and the first thing to fall victim to it is often my happiness. Fun. Laughter. Joy.

This all sounds disastrous, I know, but there is a new light shining on me lately (not a blue light, thankfully; that would give me a headache). The past few months that I’ve spent working on disconnecting my identify from my illnesses has been a great help for me in terms of recognizing how little fun I was allowing myself. I use that word “allowing” on purpose. It might feel like it’s been out of my control and, to some degree, it has, but I’ve been really working hard to intentionally seek out fun on all levels big and small, since my revelation back in September that I am not my illness. Realizing that my illnesses are “a thing I suffer from” vs. “who I am” has reminded me that I am just as entitled to having and being fun as the next person. When you hurt all the time, it’s easy for your reality to become distorted. It’s easy to take it personally, like it must be my fault that I deal with this all the time. It used to be really easy to convince me that I don’t deserve fun. That I’m broken. Weighing everyone down. I should be suffering to make up for how annoying I am to take care of.

A few things have been helping me shed that very heavy cloak of self-loathing and insecurity and I’ll share them with you now. The first thing is the revelation I just mentioned. Since disconnecting my illness from my identity, I’ve felt an awareness of the vastness of … possibility! While the pandemic has kept many things on hold and especially uncertain in the recent weeks of Omicron, I am still feeling excited about all the good times that are to come in 2022 and beyond. I truly believe now, even when things are so dark, that there are years more of those good times to have with my husbands, my friends, and my lovers, old and new.

I suffer from a bunch of annoying illnesses, but they are not my entire being. They take a lot of my energy, yes, but they don’t have as much of a stronghold on my joy as I’ve let myself believe. I can both have and be fun. I am allowed. I am worthy.

The second thing that’s been helping, and feel free to laugh at me for this, is weed. Wait, sorry, my bad, I hear we’re calling it cannabis now.😉 I’ve hated weed forever and still do in most forms, and it’s not made any better by the millions of people who say to me, immediately upon hearing I get migraines, “Have you tried weed?” Yes, Brenda, I have. I wish I liked it; would’ve made me a lot cooler in school, according to Matthew McConaughey. To my chagrin, the smell of it makes me feel sick and nauseated. I absolutely hate smoke, and any of the edibles I’ve consumed in the past have given me such bad auditory hallucinations that I’ve ended up extremely uncomfortable, convinced it would always be a bad experience that wasn’t for me.

Plus, the taste of edibles is gross to me and I can always taste it, I promise. (Super senses and all that). Any time I’d try one of Jory’s weed gummies, I would never actually chew them. Instead I’d cut off the amount that I wanted to have and would swallow it whole. Since then, thanks to the Ontario Cannabis Store (which is honestly a sentence that I’m certain NO one has ever written), I’ve been experimenting with weed “capsules”. And, well, I’ve been high almost every single night since September. Should I be worried or concerned about that? Ehh, no? It’s a pandemic?

Besides, I have years to make up for, right?

The little indulgence of these wonderful pills has brought me so much laughter over the past few very hard months. They’ve helped me be sillier and also appreciate silliness in others, where in the past I’d have been so focused on being invisible that I couldn’t enjoy people being fun/ny. That guard that often goes up when I don’t wish to be perceived; it takes a break when I’m high. I enjoy entertainment more. I have great conversations with some wonderful friends. I laugh until I cry and have on multiple occasions since starting these pills in the fall. I couldn’t tell you the last time that happened before them. These moments of stoned fun also bleed over and help me when I’m sober too. I’m reminded that I can laugh and be goofy and find joy all the time, not only in those evening moments of relaxation. I finally get it, y’all. I just had to find “my thing”.

The third, and final, contributor helping me return to fun, well this one’s easy: sex! I’m having so more sex in the last few months than I had in all of 2021. I find myself initiating it so much more with both Steph and Jory, despite the times when I might feel physically miserable. Before I was always convinced of the fact that I had to say no to their advances because there was no way I could actually a) be a good lover anymore and b) enjoy myself, thanks to whatever head or body pain I was afflicted with. It would be too disappointing for them as they would sense how hard it was for me. For too long, sex at home felt like an obligation. There hasn’t been any pressure from the husbands, no this has been a self-induced pressure. It had nothing to do with how I felt romantically or sexually about them – which has always been great; it was all me. The longer my pain went on, the worse it got over the years, the more hopeless I felt, and the more it became my identity. I was far too often convinced before – and also very ashamed – that having sex with the pain I was suffering from would be too disappointing for them as my days of being a fun lover were obviously in my past. Oh how wrong I was!

The idea of having to be sexy when I constantly felt like a broken “annoying potato of burden” was almost impossible for me to wrap my brain around. It’s easy to blame a drop in sex drive on the pandemic, but that’s only been 2 out of many more potato years.

Thankfully, with a return to outside dating my submissive side is being reborn causing me to remember all of the different ways that sex, and more importantly Me having sex, is great. (Look, I didn’t write my Yelp reviews but I trust them). I didn’t think I would ever reconnect with that side of me; it felt lost forever. Now that I’ve discovered it’s still there, I get to finally enjoy my sexuality at home with my two wonderful anchors a lot more than I let myself before. I am a very sexual being and also very in love with and attracted to them both and am reminded of the individual sexy bonds I have with each of them. It’s so wonderful to not feel this overwhelming sense of dread about an activity I once loved because I felt like I would ruin it. We can choose fun together and experiencing that again is glorious!

Partially responsible for the reconnection with my sexuality and kink is the new (younger) men in my life. Whether in person or by text, they seem to be convinced that I’m awesome, telling me as we collapse in a heap, or when I give them a very suggestive smile, or as I slip slide into their DMs. According to them, I am not a boring baked potato. I am a vivacious, attractive, powerful woman who knows what she wants and goes after it. According to them, and I trust them as I have excellent taste in humans, I am, for lack of a less obvious word, fun! I know Steph and Jory think this too, but there really is something unique about hearing it from someone who doesn’t know you that well. To think that “fun” could be the version of myself that I’m finally putting out there, it’s remarkable.

I’ve had a lot of great sex in my life but I’m really feeling so much more confident in the bedroom now. It’s more than simply a return to self; it feels like a journey to finally meet my true self. I’m having great sex everywhere now and, I have to believe, that at least 50% of the reasoning behind that is because of me! I remember now how amazing sex and kink can be; how fun it is to get absolutely railed and to flirt. I remember how much I like shaking my butt, saying “Let’s do it!” in the absolute cutest voice I can do and how good it feels to reconnect with my husband loves or to discover new lovers.

I’m remembering how to be the fun person I thought was lost forever, a little older and a lot wiser.
I’m learning how to go after joyful experiences that I want for myself and others.
I’m finally seeing the fun offered to me by everything and everyone without layers of pain distorting the view.

It’s pretty great, y’all.
Thanks, as always, for reading. <3

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Finding & Creating Joy

Today I just need to write. It might not be very well thought out or edited, but hopefully writing this will get it out of my head so I can focus on the next crisis:

I don’t think it would be too far reaching to say that joy is hard to come by nowadays. We’re almost 2 full years into a global pandemic and Omicron is swiftly ruining holidays with extreme speed. It is not at all easy to be happy right now, never mind “festive”, and yet we’re still out here trying because what else is there? Christmas is coming up and advertisements make it seem like business as usual; but is it really?

In 2020 I was so excited for this year’s holiday season, expecting that we’d be back with friends and family in person again. With talks of a vaccine on the horizon, it didn’t seem at all plausible that we’d be spending yet another December held captive by Covid’s spell. And then, almost a full year after Delta inserted itself where it certainly wasn’t welcomed Omicron arrives. I’ve been in denial ever since, even when I recently ended up having to cancel my trip home to England thanks to new isolation rules coming into effect the day I would have landed.

I find it just about impossible to believe that this variant is taking over the planet at such rapid speeds. It’s all changed so quickly. We know when the pandemic started but we have zero idea when it will end. Only a month ago there was talk about things getting better. Everyone had more hope. It was easy enough during the first lockdown to stop dining out, stop shopping, stop seeing people. When we were completely unable to do things, at least we knew the score. It sucked a lot, but it had a definitive start date. Every beginning has an end, right? Not so much when it comes to Covid-19. How soon is too soon to drop certain safety protocols? Can we plan that social gathering? Can we afford the rising cost of everything? Should I really hug that friend or go to that new restaurant or go the game? What’s the right thing to do? What’s the wrong thing? We’re back to doubting ourselves and our own risk tolerance.

Just like before vaccines, we’re back to living in extreme uncertainty. That Mexico vacation I was ready to book in February? Likely going without that again, though my constantly pained body requires intense sunshine to take pause and recover. That casual Christmas drop-in event I bought too much food for this weekend? Likely cancelled. Seeing family around the end of the month? Likely nope. Everything is constantly up in the air and yet we’re still expected to perform. To create. To put on a happy face. To do all of the things that were already too much for our nervous systems before the pandemmy even existed.

I think we’re all a bit (a lot) shell shocked right now due to this new variant blindsiding us when hope was returning. In non vaccine-starved countries we were supposed to be getting excited for boosters, booking winter holidays, and reuniting with long missed friends and family, eating just enough mini sausage rolls and rum with egg nog to temporarily forget about this whole mess for at least a few hours. Viruses don’t care how much you missed your family though. They don’t care about your mental health. They don’t care that the weight of everything is burning you out, making everything 10x as hard as it should be, with no end in sight. In fact, they don’t care about you at all.

On top of Covid, the world is burning and flooding and twisting and blowing. The visible effects of climate change are honestly terrifying right now and the refusal by those in power to take action is equal parts maddening and heartbreaking. We have the answers to fix so many problems in the world and our societies and governments barely ever make change. It’s one step forward, three steps back more often than not lately. To try to live and function in this world as a compassionate person, surrounded by people who don’t care about anyone but themselves; it’s a constant mountain of a molehill to climb. The exhaustion is just never-ending right now. If you’re feeling that, my gosh know that you’re in the norm.

So we’re likely losing our holiday get togethers. Some will also literally lose people they might have seen at theirs. Suicides are up. Drug overdoses are up. Relationship tensions are up. Burn out is up. It’s more than ok to not feel festive right now; really it’s ok to admit that it’s hard enough to feel anything positive at all. Me? I’m feeling helpless and claustrophobic. Constantly aware of the growing lack of clarity. The lack of certainty. Getting mentally stuck on the fact that the world has changed significantly more than I think any of us can actually realize. Fighting with my brain when it tries to remember the world before Covid and starts to fritz out because it feels like another lifetime.

Outside of mental health, the levels of pain from my illnesses have been at an all time high lately. I’m afraid to use my body like I used to and feeling incredibly trapped by that lack of confidence. I want to be strong but every single movement now hurts thanks to the constant stress my nervous system is fighting. How can I voluntarily lift the weights I so used to enjoy when, even just the empty motion can cause a pain flare-up that lasts for days? My energy is long gone, making happiness often feel like an impossible target. That energy loss is a million times larger for healthcare and other essential workers. For parents, for teachers, for students. For anyone carrying additional loads thanks to this pandemic. How are any of us supposed to to exist in this constant state of purgatory? 

To be perfectly honest, I have no idea. We keep going because we must, I suppose. I have no vision of the present that doesn’t involve suffering somehow. Life will always have a lot of heartache in it; that’s just how everything has always worked. The weight of that heartache at the moment though; none of us should be carrying even a tiny portion of it. It’s so very heavy that finding joy nowadays can feel like a hard to reach goal. It used to show up randomly, in pure moments of freedom, but now it has to be mined for, like a tiny gemstone at the bottom of the deepest cavern. Or the smallest piece of gold in them there hills that you have to swim down and down and down to retrieve.

And what is joy, truly? Is it an emotion that everyone experiences the same way? Is it an umbrella term for so many different versions of happiness? Of love? Is it natural? Can we manufacture it? Is it expensive? Can it be free? Why do some people feel more of it than others? And how can we harness it to fight the melancholy that is existing in the world during this horrific moment in time?

I don’t know what joy looks like for everyone else but I can tell you how and where I find it and sometimes where I have to forge it on demand. I hope that maybe my non-exhaustive random list of things I try and find joy in right now will help you notice more instances of it in your own lives, big and small.

We have to do absolutely everything that we can to not only feel joy nowadays, but also to create it and to care for it as a community. The world is trying so hard to take it from all of us, and we must persevere together to create joy in as many ways as we can. It doesn’t have to be big; to be extravagant. It can be a sound, a smell, a feeling, a texture, a taste. It can be a single instance in time or something you do repetivitely.

The struggle we face right now makes it harder to see the forest for the trees. It’s there though. I promise you.

If you’ve made it this far, here’s a sample list of where I find joy when I’m able:

  • The almost impossibly soft spot of fur behind every cat’s ears;
  • Sunshine through a winter’s window;
  • Validation from someone I lust for and / or care about;
  • How we always prep each other’s toothbrushes before bed;
  • Ice cream;
  • Photos of my favourite people. My favourite places;
  • A client securing their next home with my help;
  • Dogs. Do you ever just look at dogs?
  • My 12 foot skeleton dressed up as Father Christmas and the smiles they brings people;
  • When I’m an absolute trollop on my close friends list and a select group of people respond with continued enthusiasm and encouragement;
  • Specific male friendships;
  • Horror movies;
  • My new love of THC pills, after decades of hating weed;
  • Watching Steph sit happily in the sun on his lunch break when it’s 0 degrees out;
  • Listening to Jory do anything at work where he’s extremely engaged;
  • Train to Mexico by Toby Sebastian;
  • Weekly Corrections on Seth Meyer’s show;
  • The moment my percocet kicks in and I can feel less pain for at least a little while;
  • Being able to secure those drugs that literally help me stay alive;
  • My obsession with leopard print, the sexiest neutral;
  • My new tattoos and the mistakes from my past ones;
  • When my limits are pushed and I complain though we both know I want it;
  • Being able to help people in need now that I finally have the means to do so;
  • Lemmie and The Bird’s Papaya. IYKYK;
  • Photos of my Mum in her brightly coloured clothing, smiling wildly, even when her body hurts;
  • Jory and Steph working together, doing stuff, being supportive;
  • The thrill of new lovers;
  • Realizing that I’m the best at sex that I’ve ever been;
  • Corgis and their corgi butts;
  • Glitter nail polish always;
  • All of the colourful things in my house that are so pleasing to look at;
  • Brightly hued eyeshadow and long liquid wings;
  • Visits and gossip with my osteopath;
  • Despacito forever;
  • Any and all of my sexy playlists;
  • The relationships I’ve deepened during the pandemic;
  • The feeling of being truly satisfied and also challenged in my career for the first time ever in my life;
  • Baseball. And Teoscar Hernandez;
  • Wait, I forgot George Springer;
  • Hang on, I mean the entire Blue Jays team, let’s be real;
  • The way Sherry (cat) asks us for her bird TV show or to be played with or for food;
  • When Ruby (cat) comes to sit next to me on the couch, waiting for me to rub foreheads with her and scratch behind her ears;
  • Having the time and energy to help people with housing questions;
  • Feeling desired;
  • Intimacy in its many forms;
  • Anything and everything that raccoons do;
  • Coming home when crossing the tracks and not getting stuck behind a train;
  • The simplicity of Weetabix and blueberries;
  • Some big (secret currently) family news. No I’m not pregnant;
  • Watching my framily as parents;
  • Driving all over the city. Learning so many new favourite spots;
  • The attention of kind but stern attractive men;
  • Thoughts of femme lips, femme eyes, femme touch;
  • When Steph and I got high last week (related, he never ever does), and how long we laughed at him asking if one of the ingredients in Ryvita Snackbread was … bread;
  • Seeing more people than ever finally start to live their truths; one silver lining to the panini;
  • Underwear and a inflatable T-rex head;
  • Discovering the non-monogamous relationships and feelings I wished I’d had the first time around;
  • Singing Meatloaf songs at the top of my lungs;
  • Booking our booster shots;
  • Beginning the process of hopefully getting my ADHD diagnosis;
  • Recognizing my mistakes and focusing on what I can learn from them;
  • Super fresh McDonald’s fries;
  • Grapes. Do they know how perfect they are;
  • Remembering my accomplishments. I wrote a book! I created a conference! I built a community;
  • Accepting how much I love astrology;
  • Cinnamon and smiles and compliments;
  • Kink;
  • When people in the fast lane actually move out of my way before someone impatient goes around them;
  • Mini candy canes, but especially the ones that have been aging for a few years to the perfect level of softness;
  • Extremely vulnerable conversations with people I treasure;
  • Letting go of people that I don’t;
  • Working with Jory to help understand his autism and how we can be better together;
  • Noticing how I’ve changed;
  • Crusty bread, butter, english cheddar, and Branston pickle;
  • Lingerie and the requests that go along with it;
  • Multi-coloured pens;
  • Heated seats in the car;
  • 90s hip-hop and R&B;
  • Compliments from fellow Realtors about my professionalism;
  • Multi-layered folded chips;
  • Being more intentional about my music choices;
  • Wellington Paranormal;
  • And, finally …

You, if you’ve made it this far. You deserve all the joy you can find.

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Comfort/Able

On even the softest pillows, existence still aches
Relief remaining a forbidden far-off fantasy
Aloof. Distant. Just so slightly out of reach.

This body, these bones, this supposed thick skin
Rarely, if ever, understand or believe in peace
In charge, a world war of hurt, the spotlight stolen by pain.

The head, sliced open, nerves laid bare to the world
By the sharpest of tools, or gentlest clouds in the sky
So bright, so loud, so often, so … much.

A rare commodity these days, it seems
Comfort begins sneaking into private moments
With hair in hands, on throat, the equator trembles.

One slow glance, a soft but stern tone
The mind empties, pain flows away like lavaCould this be the new way to feel softness? To feel safe?

Fingers trace tattoos like a map searching for treasure
Eyes lock me in place, cannot move, cannot speak
Firm tenderness replacing the infinite envelopment of misery.

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